Claremore Daily Progress reporter Salesha Wilken was named the Best New Journalist of the Year Saturday during the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives competition in Norman.
The winners were announced Saturday night.There were 179 entries in Division C, which comprised newspapers with less than 7,000 in circulation.
Wiken came to the Progress in August 2011 and has used her previous experience in law enforcement, as well as public finance and education to enhance her reporting and research efforts.
Wilken's reporting was honored with second place awards in the investigative reporting and public service reporting.
"During the past year she has provided blanket coverage of Rogers County and City of Claremore government." said Progress Editor Randy Cowling. "Salesha never gives up. She searches and searches for answers to questions. When others might be afraid to ask the tough questions, Salesha does not hesitate, doing so with respectfulness and integrity."
The judges for the AP/ONE contest agree.
“It is obvious that public officials don’t scare Salesha Wilken. She covers county commissioners, the investigation of a congressional candidate and other important issues for the Daily Progress’ readers. She’s a strong reporter and quite an addition to the staff,” said Judge Dino Chiecchi of the San Antonio Express-News.
Judge Jared Strong of the Daily Times, Carroll, Iowa, said of Wilken's stories about Rogers County Commissioners use of public funds. “This entry showed some dogged work to keep your county officials honest. I bet someone might think twice before running in the next election.”
“I am extremely honored to be recognized by the Associated Press and my peers, ” Wilken said. “Saying this, I believe it is very important to recognize the citizens that have become sources of information, risking much, so that light would shine in all areas of our government, without your voice these stories would not be possible.”
"The support of my family has been key to my success they have been there through the numerous late night phone calls, hours of research and even the occasional anonymous letter. It has been an interesting journey and I believe it is only the beginning.”