Rhodes wins photo of the year; Indian Journal places third
The Oklahoma Press Association (OPA) named the McIntosh County Democrat the top newspaper in the state in its division, awarding it the Sequoyah Award during the OPA’s annual convention Saturday at the Grand Hotel in Shawnee.
This is the second time in nine years that the Democrat has won this award and has run a close second coming within a few points of winning it again for several years.
The coveted Sequoyah Award, which is the highest honor in the Better Newspaper Contest, is determined by the number of points accumulated in eight of the contest’s categories: news content, layout & design, advertising, editorial writing, photography, sports coverage, sales promotion and community leadership.
“I am very proud of the great work the staff does producing the Democrat each week,” Jeff Mayo, publisher, said. “It is wonderful that this year the judges selected our paper as the best in its division.
“General Manager Shauna Belyeu is a wonderful leader of our staff in McIntosh County and LaDonna, Jerry, Rodney and Daphanie are an outstanding community journalism team! We will continue to work week in and week out to deliver the news about our community and the things important to it.”
Mayo, who began working at the familyowned Sequoyah County Times in Sallisaw at the age of eight, was also inducted into the Quarter Century Club.
Mayo serves as the publisher of the Sequoyah County Times, Eastern Times-Register, Henryetta Free-Lance, Okmulgee Times and Vian Tenkiller News as well as the McIntosh County Democrat and the Eufaula Indian Journal.
Members of the Hoosier State Press Association judged almost 1,550 entries from 77 Oklahoma news publications.
Winners of this year’s Sequoyah Awards in the OPA Better Newspaper Contest also were announced at the OPA Convention. In the divisions for daily and online-only publications, winners were The Lawton Constitution and McAlester News-Capital.
Sequoyah winners in the weekly divisions were the El Reno Tribune, Mustang Times, Piedmont-Surrey Gazette, McIntosh County Democrat, Lincoln County News and Yale News.
“There are many qualified newspapers here in Oklahoma. We are very honored to be named the top in our division, competing against Oklahoma City newspapers,” McIntosh County Democrat General Manager Shauna Belyeu said.
“We have a great team who works very hard each week to put out the most compelling, local news coverage of our community. We are very proud to be the local news source.”
The Democrat is a Division Six publication, a category that includes all weekly newspapers in the state with a population of 3,000-6,000.
Office Manager and Staff Writer LaDonna Rhodes won Photo of the Year for the weekly division across the state.
Rhodes was presented a plaque and a check for $200 during a special luncheon during the OPA conference.
“What a whirlwind of an award-winning weekend we had! I was so excited to win the OG&E 2022 Picture of the Year! However, winning the coveted Sequoyah with my team was the icing on the cake,” Rhodes said. “Congratulations to everyone for all the countless hours worked to receive all these awards as we cover our world and our communities.”
Rhodes’ photo captured a lawn mower tractor in mid-flip during the tractor races at the Freedom Festival in 2022.
The Eufaula Indian Journal placed third in the state competition also bringing home team and individual awards in four categories for the team of papers.
Awards presented to the McIntosh County Democrat and the Eufaula Indian Journal include:
McIntosh County Democrat
Community Leadership – Domestic Violence – 1st place Photography – 1st place Front Page Design Shauna Belyeu, LaDonna Rhodes and Wes Stout 1st place Advertising – 1st place Sales Promotion Gridiron Guide – 1st place Sports Photograph Rodney Haltom 1st, 2nd and 3rd place Photo Essay Page -Rodney Haltom – 2nd place News Photo- LaDonna Rhodes – 2nd place Layout & Design 2nd place News Content – 3rd place Editorial Writing 3rd place
Eufaula Indian Journal
Advertising -1st place Sports Story – Rodney Haltom-1st place Photography – 2nd place Sports Coverage – 3rd place “Your local newspapers will continue to uphold the standards of community journalism here in McIntosh County and appreciate your continued support to make that possible,” Belyeu said.