Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oklahoma couple who run a great weekly paper enter state's Journalism Hall of Fame today

John and Faith Wylie, publishers of one of the best weekly newspapers in America, the Oologah Lake Leader, are joining the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame today, "along with eight other outstanding journalists," the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors reports in its April newsletter. "The Wylies represent the best of quality journalism in Oklahoma," said Dr. Terry Clark, director of the hall and journalism professor at the University of Central Oklahoma.

John M. Wylie II, who studied at Grinnell College in Iowa, was part of the Kansas City Star team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Hyatt hotel disaster in 1982. He and his wife bought the weekly Leader in 1984. "His investigations for the Leader and national and international publications of McGraw-Hill have concentrated on energy regulation, attracting national attention," ISWNE reports. He has won hundreds of prizes and the leader has won eight first prizes from the National Newspaper Association. Faith Wylie has a degree in graphic design from the University of Kansas.

The Wylies have also been civic leaders and have received several local awards. John Wylie discussed their civil service and their approach to publishing in remarks prepared for the 2007 National Summit on Journalism in Rural America, titled "Independent Publishing Today: Thriving in a world of box stores and chain papers." He wrote, "Work for the economic prosperity of your community the right way. Don’t trust the economic gurus. Run, don’t walk, from the folks who tell you that this private prison or that hazardous waste dump is the key to the future. They aren’t. Build a real community based on real community values and a strong economic base, and your economic future will be secure."

As for publishing, he wrote, "Some publishers believe that the local newspaper should carry only good news and never offend anyone. We say a good local newspaper should carry all the news, and provide quality coverage of the good, the bad and everything in between. . . . You are the only newspaper in the world that gives a diddly about your town. Act like it. Your town includes the preacher and the pauper; the millionaire and the welfare mom; the teacher and the mentally handicapped child. Speak for all of them, meet their needs, help them realize their dreams and you will prosper." (Read more)

For information on the other winners, and more on the Wylies, see the ISWNE newsletter in PDF form here. UPDATE, June 20: For the Wylies' remarks, in the June ISWNE newsletter, go here.

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