Registration is open for the 2015 national FOI Summit, to be held at the Curtis Hotel in Denver on Oct. 9-10.

The “open government” portion of the two-day conference, co-sponsored by the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (CFOIC), is on Saturday and will feature panels on issues related to police body-worn cameras, government emails and open data.

Most of Friday’s panels will focus on organizational matters for NFOIC-members such as the CFOIC.

A Saturday-only conference rate of $75 is available for those who register by Sept. 1. The price includes the NFOIC’s “Hall of Fame Luncheon,” which honors “an individual who has left a legacy at the state and local level for their service, accomplishments and contributions to keep state and local government records and meetings open and accessible to residents.”

Saturday’s agenda:

Policing the Police: Should police body-cam videos be publicly available? Do citizens have the right to record police conduct? What redaction policies and procedures should occur? What are the challenges to store and maintain the digital files? Can the public access police internal affairs reports? When do records become public during/after an investigation and why?

Hall of Fame Luncheon and Keynote Speaker (TBA)

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: What use is a robust public records act if the emails, texts, and other digital records “self-destruct” before the public can even ask to see them? Or where shoddy record keeping puts a financial burden on the petitioner to access and view these records? If the digital files are stored outside of government servers, what rights do citizens have to access those public records? How can you challenge a denied response where the records custodian claims their search turned up nothing to meet your criteria? Why the inconsistencies across jurisdictions for the same type of records requests?

OpenData – No Need to Ask: FOI and OR requests are expensive, time-consuming and often frustrating – sometimes for both sides. Proactive open data policies and procedures can make access to public information cheaper and easier for everyone. A consistently applied definition of a “data set” including what is available right now from public agencies, to what is being (digitally) generated each day by agencies and organizations, determining what data should be public and how it should be made more accessible, will take a dedicated effort from public organizations and members of the public. The need to work together on policies and practices that create and complement best practices to collect, organize, manage and report public information can result in win-win results for both record custodians and record petitioners. Both public organizations and the FOI community must share an understanding of what open data is most useful and how to make it cost- and time-affordable for the public to access it.

The full agenda is here. More details will be added soon.

Register here.

Those needing a hotel room can make reservations at the Curtis until Sept. 8 at the special conference rate of $139/night. Click here for reservations.

IRE (Investigative Reporters & Editors) is holding a special Fort Collins Watchdog Workshop Sept. 25-26. Get the tools and the tricks of the trade that you need to be a better, faster, watchdog journalist. Please register early as space is limited.

This training will offer several of IRE’s core sessions that will improve your ability to find information on the Web quickly, and point you to key documents and data that will help you add depth to your daily work and produce quick-hit enterprise stories. In addition, this workshop will give you tips on bulletproofing stories, digging deeper on the Web with social media, search engines and much more. These sessions are designed for reporters, editors, and producers from small, midsize and large publications, TV, radio stations, Web-only news sites and news blogs. Freelancers, students and journalism educators are also encouraged to attend.

Join IRE’s experienced trainers and a group of veteran reporters for our Watchdog Workshop Friday, September 25th. Friday’s training will take place at the Fort Collins Coloradoan in the community room. An optional Computer-Assisted Reporting Training Session will take place on Saturday morning at Colorado State University in Clark A-70. Attend this hands-on workshop and learn how to use Excel, a powerful electronic spreadsheet for deadline and beat reporting on budgets, salaries, election data and more. Also, learn how to dig deeper using the Internet and find valuable datasets for your stories. Class size is limited; register early to reserve a seat on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here is the website for the Fort Collins workshop: https://www.ire.org/events-and-training/event/2136/  To get directly to the registration site for non-IRE members, go to https://irenicar.wufoo.com/forms/watchdog-workshop-fort-collins-co/ . If you have any questions about the event, feel free to contact Tricia Morgan, the event coordinator for IRE. She’s at 573.884.7556 or tricia@ire.org.

Colorado Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Board of Directors election 2015-2016

Deadline to vote: noon Thursday, Aug. 13

Directions: Read carefully the bios and position statements of the candidates. Then send an e-mail with a subject line “SPJ vote” with your votes to Deb Hurley at dchurley@aol.com. Please vote for one president-elect candidate or name a write-in candidate, and one treasurer candidate or name a write-in. The board has four at-large board member positions open and two candidates. You may vote for either or both of the candidates listed plus send in names of write-in candidates. If four at-large board members are not elected, then the board will appoint Colorado Pro members to fill the positions.

If you have questions, contact elections chair Deb Hurley at 303-601-8098.


President-elect candidate

Vote for one or send a write-in

Amy Maestas
Amy Maestas is a native Utahn who graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years in various positions, including as a reporter for the Deseret News, assistant editor of a bank trade magazine, managing editor of The Event, an alternative newsweekly, and as a music reviewer for several small publications in Salt Lake City. She also has freelanced for numerous magazines in the Southwest and nationally. She was a writer and contributing editor for Inside/Outside magazine during its entire existence. In the mid-1990s, Amy joined The Durango Herald as a reporter and covered city government, politics, business and public lands. She has won numerous awards from the Society of Professional Journalists – both nationally and the Utah and Colorado chapters – from the Associated Press and from the Colorado Press Association. In 2012, Amy completed a journalism and management fellowship with the Maynard Media Academy at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. Amy also works with the International Center for Journalist as a mentor to young foreign journalists. Her most recent mentoring work was completed in Turkey, Armenia and Uganda.

Amy joined the board of directors for the Colorado Pro chapter because she believes that media leaders need to renew their contributions and involvement to keep our industry successful.

Amy Maestas

Amy Maestas

Reason for running:

I am running a president-elect for the Colorado Pro board of directors because I want to continue contributing to a chapter that needs representation outside the Denver metro area. During the last three years, I have been able to help the chapter get the word out in rural areas, and I believe we have done good work that merits continued support as SPJ evolves with the news industry.

My interest fits squarely in with the belief that media leaders need to renew their contributions and involvement to keep our industry successful. As a news editor of a small daily newspaper in Durango, I want to connect with the news industry throughout the rest of the state to be able to work toward a common goal of quality journalism.

I want to continue to interact with Colorado journalists so that I can be part of a conversation about how we not only deliver news to readers and viewers, but how we also create an environment for professionals to thrive. Journalism is enduring challenges that many of us want to take head on. I want to work with statewide colleagues on these challenges.


Please send any write-in names

Bob Burdick

Bob Burdick, 67, is retired after serving on the editorial and business sides of newspapers in California, Colorado, Florida and Kansas. In addition to SPJ Colorado, he has been a member of SPJ in California and Kansas.

He was president and publisher of the Colorado Springs Gazette, and the Naples (Fla.) Daily News; editor and president of the Rocky Mountain News; editor of the LA Daily News; assistant managing editor and special projects editor of The Denver Post; metro Editor of the San Jose Mercury; city editor and assistant managing editor of The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle-Beacon; night city editor of The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post; reporter for The Miami Herald and more.

Burdick was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Associated Press Managing Editors, Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, California Society of Newspaper Editors, Associated Press News Executives Council and an AP western regional association. He holds a BA from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Burdick and his wife, Patty Burnett, reside in Greenwood Village with their Schnauzer, Pixie. Burdick does occasional consulting and teaches journalism part-time at Arapahoe Community College. In addition to SPJ, he is a member of Hope United Methodist Church, the Denver Press Club, Alfa Romeo Owners Club of the Rockies, and he is a Meals on Wheels volunteer driver. After a three-decade respite from changing diapers, he has rediscovered the joy of same for his granddaughter, Evelyn.

Bob Burdick

Bob Burdick

Reason for running:

I am running for the SPJ Colorado Pro treasurer position because I have the time, experience and enthusiasm to devote to the task. It is not an easy job, but the rewards make it worthwhile.

I have served as chapter treasurer in recent months, and I have helped steer us successfully through an annual SPJ National audit. Further, I have the books organized and I have tried to respond promptly to questions, check requests and so forth.

This is a time-consuming task, but I am prepared to tackle it again for the coming year.

If elected, I’ll continue to do my best to keep the books current, to regularly attend scheduled and special meetings and presentations, as well as volunteer for conferences and other events, and to help the president with other tasks as he/she directs.

Board of directors

Four positions are up for election even though there are two candidates.

Kara Mason

Kara Mason is the news editor at the PULP, a monthly news magazine based in Pueblo. She edits as well as contributes to the publication, which covers Southern Colorado issues in-depth. Her work mostly involves political and investigative coverage of the region. She uncovered the campaign finance behind the recalls of two former state senators, profiled a Superfund site in Pueblo and investigated the economic impact of Pueblo’s Convention Center expansion. Kara is a recent graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo with a degree in journalism and a minor in political science. While working on her degree she was editor of the award-winning CSU-Pueblo Today Magazine and freelancer for various publication such as the Canon City Daily Record. Kara also worked in Washington, D.C. as an intern at the Scripps Washington Bureau.

Kara Mason

Kara Mason

Reason for running:

When I first ran for SPJ, it was at the encouragement of my CSU-Pueblo journalism professor Leticia Steffen, a former board member. She said it would be a great opportunity for a student, and I saw it as a chance to represent journalism students and recent graduates from across the state. I quickly realized it was also a great opportunity to represent Southern Colorado journalists as well. During my term I helped organize a workshop on open records requests for journalists and community members in my region. While the event the small, it was a step in getting journalist that are not along the Front Range connected to SPJ and training that is often not held here. In my second term I would like to continue to represent two sets of journalists that are very important to the profession in our state.

Adrian Garcia

Adrian D. Garcia covers Northern Colorado trends, startup news and developments as growth and data reporter for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. In 2014, he graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder (Go Buffs!), having studied journalism, psychology and entrepreneurship. His previous experience includes reporting for the Denver Post, I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS and his hometown paper The Pueblo Chieftain.

Adrian Garcia

Adrian Garcia

Reason for running:

I would like to join the Colorado SPJ Pro board to advance the chapter’s mission of promoting traditional journalism values and principles in today’s media landscape. I am particularly interested in bringing journalists in Northern Colorado, millennials and those with diverse backgrounds into the conversations about how journalism is evolving across the state and country. I’ve previously hosted SPJ functions at the University of Colorado Boulder and attended the 2013 Excellence in Journalism Conference. I’ve also connected with several members who serve on the board, either virtually or in person, and hope to be a valuable addition to an already knowledgeable and experienced team.

This is one in a series of interviews with Colorado journalists.

By Ed Otte

Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit web-based news organization – www.co.chalkbeat.org – covering educational change in Colorado schools.

In addition to staff-written stories that provide an in-depth look at school issues, the Chalkbeat site offers daily educational headlines from a broad network of other state print and broadcast news sources.

Nic Garcia

Nic Garcia

Coverage focuses on K-12 education in Denver, Aurora and Jefferson County as well the state board of education and the Colorado Legislature. Former Denver Post reporter and editor Todd Engdahl covers the Capitol and, during the legislative session, that reporting includes an extensive education bill tracker feature.

Chalkbeat Colorado relies on financial donations from a list of national sponsors – ranging from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Walton Family Foundation – and dozens of Colorado business and education leaders. Its website has a “Donate” button offering one-time contribution amounts of $125 to $1,000.

The organization’s philosophy, stated on its website, addresses a big-picture view of education: There are endless stories to be told about public schools, the people who work in them, and the children they serve. At Chalkbeat, we try to focus on what’s really going to matter, not just what’s happening. We do this by assessing every development through the lens of five major “storylines” we believe drive educational change:

Teaching and learning: the work happening inside schools

Politics and policymakers: the officials and advocacy groups that create school law and policy

Bureaucracy and operations: the evolving structures governing schools

Out-of-school context: the environmental factors that students bring to school

Educational tools: curriculum, textbooks, standards and assessments.

Started in 2008 as EdNews Colorado by Denver’s Public Education and Business Coalition, it later merged with GothamSchools, a website based in New York, to become Chalkbeat. Former Colorado bureau chief Maura Walz transferred to the network level, which provides support for bureaus across the country, in January to become deputy managing editor. A new bureau chief is expected to be named soon.

Nic Garcia is senior reporter and interim operations chief for Chalkbeat Colorado. He covers schools in Jefferson County and Aurora and other metro school districts as well as statewide school improvement efforts and Common Core Standards. Prior to joining the organization in October 2013, Garcia was the editor of Out Front, a statewide LGBT magazine.

Question: What is the No. 1 K-12 issue in Colorado?

Garcia: I don’t think there is a “No. 1” issue. So much of what schools do is interconnected. Having said that, if you ask school leaders, teachers and parents, most will say two things: testing and funding. We did see the legislature attempt to tackle the issue of testing last spring. Critics say it’s not enough. So, we’ll see what other additional changes might come if and when Congress rewrites federal legislation. Regarding funding, your guess is as good as mine as to how Colorado gives more money to schools.

Question: Your website posts links to stories from the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Longmont Times-Call, Denver Business Journal, Daily Camera, Denver Post, KUNC, 9News, Fox31 and other news organizations. Does Chalkbeat have a partnership agreement with the organizations to share news stories?

Garcia: Every morning Chalkbeat aggregates the latest educational headlines from around the state and nation for our readers. We post what we call “Rise & Shine” both on our website and then email a version to thousands of readers across the state. It is a daunting task so early in the morning but our readers love it.

Chalkbeat also encourages other news organizations to republish our original reporting – for free. We send out stories of interest like state databases to members of the Colorado Press Association. And anyone can use our “republish” tool on our website. With just one click of a button, any news organization can republish our stories on its own website. (It’s the “R” button above each article.)

Question: Do non-news organizations republish your stories?

Garcia: Chalkbeat’s reporting is picked up by all sorts of organizations. Nonprofits and scholarly journals are just as likely to republish or cite our reports as other news organizations – if not more.

Question: Denver media focus on metro-area educational news. How do you complement your metro coverage with stories on school issues in rural Colorado?

Garcia: That’s a really good question. For a while there, we had a reporter who split her time between covering Denver Public Schools and rural schools. Sadly, that reporter left the organization for personal reasons. I think we need to come up with a solution on how to cover rural issues. And if there are any rural reporters or editors out there who might want to partner on some projects, let me know. (ngarcia@chalkbeat.org)

Question: What is the most under-reported education story in Colorado?

Garcia: It’s a tie. The first is how schools are implementing new content standards that were developed in 2010. Second, how schools are spending their money in a really granular way.

Question: What feedback to you get from your audience?

Garcia: Like any news organization, it ranges. We hear it all from “you’re doing a great job” to “you suck.” But I think what’s really ringing in my ears is that readers want more and deeper coverage of complex issues and fewer day stories.

Question: Chalkbeat is in the same Rocky Mountain PBS offices in downtown Denver with I-News and Inside Energy. Do the reporters and editors discuss story ideas or share news sources?

Garcia: We love the folks at I-News and Inside Energy. It’s go great to be in a space with like-minded individuals. We do share tips, sources, even content. But I think I speak for everyone when I say the best thing about being in this shared space is the Friday happy hours.

Question: In addition to Colorado, Chalkbeat has bureaus in New York, Tennessee and Indiana. Why these states?

Garcia: Chalkbeat was created by the founders of two existing news websites – EdNews Colorado and GothamSchools in New York. That’s one of the reasons why we’re in Colorado and New York. But more importantly, we’re in these states because we believe each has interesting stories to tell about how changes in education policy are impacting low-income students of color. For example, Indiana has one of the largest voucher programs for low-income students. Tennessee has one of the most robust state-run school turnaround programs in our nation. The success of those policies don’t have implications just for students in those states – but for the entire nation.

Question: What is the challenge in attracting financial supporters who don’t intend to influence your news coverage?

Garcia: As a reporter, I have very little to do with the logistics of fundraising. So, I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. I can say each of our funders understand they have no influence in our coverage and – from what I can tell – it hasn’t been a problem yet.

Dear members of Colorado Pro Chapter of SPJ:

My name is Deb Hurley. I’m the news editor at Evergreen Newspapers and the elections chair for the Colorado Professional Chapter of SPJ. I am calling for self-nominations for the six positions up for election on the board: four directors at-large, the treasurer and the president-elect.

Board meetings are held bimonthly, and board members may attend in person or via conference call. Board members may reside anywhere in Colorado, and must be members in good standing with national SPJ and the Colorado Professional Chapter.

To indicate your willingness to run for a position and to serve on the board, please e-mail me your name, the position you are running for, a photo, a biography of no more than 250 words and a statement of no more than 200 words explaining why you want to be on the board. Deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, July 31.

The election information will be e-mailed to all members of the Colorado Pro Chapter on Aug. 1. Members will have until noon on Thursday, Aug. 14, to cast ballots in this all-electronic election.

If you have any questions about the process, the duties or how you can get involved with the Colorado Pro Chapter – whether as a board member or as a volunteer – please contact me at 303-601-8098 or at dchurley@aol.com or chapter president Ed Otte at eotte@gmail.com.

Position: President-elect
Term of office: 1 year; this person automatically become president of the chapter in 2016, serving in that position for two years
Duties: The president-elect acts in the absence of the president and works closely with the president to oversee the chapter; learns the workings of the chapter in preparation to become president.
Position: Treasurer
Term of office: 2 years
Duties: The treasurer shall oversee all monies of the chapter and shall disburse funds upon proper authorization of the chapter’s officers; keep records of all receipts, disbursements and balances; report monthly on the financial condition of the chapter to the board.
Position: Members of the board of directors
Term of office: 2 years
4 positions are open
Duties: The board is responsible for the general direction and planning of chapter activities. Board members are required to attend board meetings and participate in the chapter’s professional development and programming efforts. A member of the board may also be appointed to chair one of several committees coordinating the work of the chapter, including membership, communications, programming, ethics and advocacy.

By Ed Otte

“The most common question I get is: What beer should I buy for my mother-in-law?” Natasha Gardner said.

The 5280 Magazine senior editor joined Denver Business Journal reporter Ed Sealover and Denver Post reporter Eric Gorski on July 9 at the Denver Press Club to discuss Colorado’s craft beer industry. The program was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Eric Gorski of The Denver Post, Natasha Gardner of 5280 Magazine and Denver Business Journal reporter Ed Sealover at the July 9 Colorado SPJ program at the Denver Press Club.

Eric Gorski of The Denver Post, Natasha Gardner of 5280 Magazine and Denver Business Journal reporter Ed Sealover at the July 9 Colorado SPJ program at the Denver Press Club.

Gardner’s answer reflects the current trend among craft brewers. “I tell them something with fruit in it. Whether it’s done well or not is another question. It’s better when it’s fresh out of the tap.”

According to Gorski, “Those beers have a lot of character with a lower alcohol content. Grapefruit IPA is big right now. It’s a desire for authenticity. Fruit that’s picked and brewed in a short time can be compared to jam.”

“The old brewers who used the German philosophy of just water, barley, yeast and hops would be turning over in their graves right now,” Sealover said. “By adding spices, chocolate and fruit – you’re widening the audience.”

Those consumers are growing in numbers and so too is news coverage of beer.

Sealover writes about government, health care, business and beer. “I cover the beer industry as a business story. I tell people why beer is interesting – not like 30 years ago – and why it’s important to Colorado’s economy. If I write a story about beer legislation, I get a lot of reaction, more than any other legislative story.”

5280 Magazine offers its readers a monthly mix of Denver news stories and lifestyle features including beer.

“Readers love our beer stories,” Gardner said. “Our coverage of the Great American Beer Festival is huge for us. The common reader response is that we’re not doing enough coverage. And there are a lot of fights on our staff for who gets to go the festival.”

Gorski, who covered religion at The Gazette and The Associated Press, admitted he wrote stories about “finding God at the festival because I wanted to get that three-day (festival) pass.”

This year’s Great American Beer Festival will be Sept. 24-26 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

When Gorksi went to The Post, “(Editor) Greg Moore asked us to bring something in our lives to the paper’s coverage. I started a beer blog and we wanted to bring something new to the discussion – not just that another brewery has opened. There’s a big audience for this, a deep abiding passion. No one recognizes me for my education stories but they know me from the beer blog.”

Colorado’s craft beer industry is a national story because, Sealover said, “there are about 300 breweries in Colorado. Most of them opened since 2012. We always look for signs that the craft beer bubble will burst but people don’t sense that it will happen. Only about 120 of them are on the shelves. They could be competing for shelf space in stores but they sell in their taprooms instead and that’s hugely profitable for them.”

Craft beer prosperity requires more than taprooms and trendy flavors.

“Culty breweries is what Colorado is known for but they have to be business people as well as brewers. If they aren’t, they won’t succeed,” Gorski said. “You see more breweries opened by people who have experience in the business because they know what they’re doing. And they’re succeeding.”

Gardner agreed. “Dunng the first (craft beer) bubble it was really tough on the brewers. The ones who survived doubled down, producing what they do best.”

Another example? Cans. “What you used to get in cans was just swill,” Sealover said. “The craft industry was slow to realize it could use cans for quality beer. Now, you see it happening” primarily for marketing.

The three journalists cited a variety of breweries – mostly along the Front Range – as successful examples and they each mentioned the River North brewery district as a favorite location. In a Feb. 18 story in The Post, Gorski wrote:

“Once the domain of shady characters and drafty warehouses, the River North area just north of downtown Denver has been transformed into a hip destination with artists and architects, stylish workspaces and eateries, condo farms for the young and affluent – and one of the thickest concentrations of breweries in the West, if not the country.”

“Having that many close is a dream,” he said at the July 9 program.

“Pretty much anything from River North is good,” Gardner said.

Asked to name their favorite beer, they gave very different answers.

“Hoppenberg Uncertainty Principle from River North Brewery,” Sealover said. “It’s a double Belgian IPA that’s, well, really good.”

“The one that’s in my hand right now,” Gorski said without a bottle, glass or can of beer in his hand.

“One of the good things in Denver is that chefs are pairing craft beers with their dishes,” Gardner said. “But a lot depends on where you are. When I’m at Coors Field, I want a Coors Light.”

What do three award-winning Denver journalists have in common? Well, they like to write and talk about Colorado’s craft beer industry.

Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal, Natasha Gardner of 5280 Magazine and Eric Gorski of The Denver Post will discuss suds at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place. The program, sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, is free and open to the public.

Sealover covers government, health care, business and beer for the Journal. Formerly with the Rocky Mountain News and The Gazette in Colorado Springs, he has won more than two dozen journalism awards in five states. He has been writing about beer since 2003, having penned a former column in The Gazette and a current website called Beer Blog. He published “Mountain Brew” in 2012 and is a member of the American Homebrewers Association.

Gardner is a senior editor at 5280 Magazine where she works on  long-form narrative pieces and multimedia projects. She helped conceive, design, write and produce 5280’s beer coverage. She too has won numerous journalism honors, including the 2010 Sigma Delta Chi award for public service in journalism in the magazine regional/local circulation category.

Both Sealover and Gardner appear often on the CPT12 Denver PBS “Colorado Inside Out” weekly panel program discussing local and national news events.

Gorski is a member of The Post investigative team and writes the First Drafts blog covering beer and brewery news in Colorado. He won several national awards for his coverage of the religion beat at The Post, The Gazette and The Associated Press. While at AP, he wrote stories about finding God at the Great American Beer Festival and competition to make the country’s greatest IPA.

Metered street parking is available in front of and near the Press Club. The meters accept credit cards. Parking is also available in a public lot on the southwest side of the Club.


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