- Published on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 14:20
Denwalt places first, second, and third for writing and photography
Daily Elk Citian
A Daily Elk Citian journalist was honored at the Oklahoma Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awards banquet Saturday night.
Dale Denwalt, journalist at the Daily Elk Citian for almost a year now, received three awards: First place for feature writing, second place for photography portfolio and third place for general news reporting.
"There were more than 1,000 entries in this contest, and for me to place three times in three separate categories for pretty much completely different things makes me feel really good about my abilities and what I bring to this newspaper," Denwalt said.
There were seven total categories he entered and Denwalt was up against most of the newspapers in the state, including those that have 25,000 or fewer subscribers.
For Denwalt, this is the first competition he has entered since beginning his professional career here with the Daily Elk Citian. He graduated from Northeastern State University in 2007.
"It means a lot," Denwalt said. "It's validation and I'm a humble guy, so it's sometimes hard for me to take, you know, lauds, but you submit the thing, you go there, you sit down and you wait. You watch other people win, and they finally call your name. It's a humbling experience in and of itself."
The feature story for which Denwalt took first place was 'Headed West,' published November 4. The story was about two unconventional hitch-hikers who had purposefully dropped everything to travel from North Carolina to Arizona.
"There was really no news value in it, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to share it," Denwalt said.
Perhaps the most striking part of the story was the grand finale.
"I was sitting there talking to them and the guy was rambling on, and on, and on, and I was about to say, 'Okay, I've got to wrap it up,' when someone pulls up in a truck and stops and interrupts our conversation and says, 'Are you guys traveling? I'm going to Pampa, Texas,'" Denwalt explained. "How that story ends is as she's clearing out the car she tells them, 'I used to travel too.'"
As far as Denwalt is concerned, it was the perfect ending to a well-written story that landed him a first place plaque.
"It was very exciting to see Dale honored among his fellow journalists at Saturday night's ceremony for the work he has done here at this newspaper," Derek Manning, Daily Elk Citian publisher, said. "This is a young man who devotes a great deal of time, energy and passion to his profession, and our newspaper is better for it. More importantly, our readers and the citizens of Elk City benefit from his professionalism and dedication to the job, because he sees it as his duty to keep them informed in the most accurate and readable way possible. We are very fortunate to have him here."
With his plaque and certificates hanging above his desk, Denwalt said he only hopes to keep writing at a level that is represented by the awards he recently received.
"The actual awards, the plaques, the medals they give, they don't mean a whole lot to me, but the recognition of my peers does," Denwalt said.