See the winners of this year’s Top of the Rockies on this spreadsheet: Judging_result_vertical2111174542(2018-03-14)

Please check back next week for posts with links to all the winning work.


The Colorado Pro Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists recognized four professionals for their contributions to journalism Friday.

The chapter annually honors individual Colorado journalists nominated for outstanding contributions at its Top of the Rockies awards event.

Bente Birkeland

Bente Birkeland

Radio reporter Bente Birkeland is recognized as Journalist of the Year for her groundbreaking work covering the #MeToo movement and a culture of sexual harassment at Colorado’s capitol. Birkeland is the statehouse reporter for a collaborative of 15 public radio stations, including KUNC in northern Colorado and KRCC in Colorado Springs. She has reported 40 stories about sexual harassment at the capitol since Nov. 10.

Birkeland was the first reporter to report workplace harassment allegations against Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock and Republican Sens. Randy Baumgardner, Larry Crowder and Jack Tate, and Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan. The House voted to expel Lebsock in March, while GOP Senate leaders determined allegations against Tate were unfounded. Senators voted against expelling Baumgardner. Kagan’s complaint is pending and Crowder’s complaint was resolved, though not to the accuser’s satisfaction.

Jamey Trotter

Jamey Trotter

Jamey Trotter of Arapahoe Community College is Educator of the Year. Trotter runs the only program in Colorado that offers an associate’s degree in journalism, and oversees the student online news site, the Arapahoe Pinnacle.

Trotter, an English instructor, ensured that credits from ACC transfer to Metropolitan State University of Denver’s journalism program.

The Colorado Independent Editor Susan Greene is recipient of the First Amendment Award. She’s being recognized for her aggressive coverage of violence at the Denver County Jail, District Attorney George Brauchler’s pursuit of the death penalty and more.

Susan Greene

Susan Greene

Greene and The Colorado Independent have successfully sued for government documents in several instances, holding Colorado’s law enforcement community to account.

Denver Business Journal Editor In Chief Neil Westergaard received the Keeper of the Flame Award. This honor recognizes Westergaard’s significant Colorado career, first as executive editor of the Denver Post and for the past 18 years at the Business Journal. 

Neil Westergaard

Neil Westergaard

Under his leadership, the Denver Business Journal has won numerous national and regional awards. He oversaw an online transition in 2009 that tripled the site’s traffic. Westergaard is retiring this year, but will remain a contributing editor and consultant to the Denver Business Journal.

The state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has awarded 10 scholarships to Colorado college students for the 2019 academic year.

SPJ’s Colorado Pro Chapter awards the scholarships annually in a competition in which students submit samples of published work and an essay about why they are passionate about the profession.

Scholarship amounts, which are based on quality of published work, academic performance and financial need, topped out at $2,000 for the leading recipient.

The scholarship recipients are:

  • Haley Candelario, a sophomore studying journalism and media communications at Colorado State University.
  • Lina Takahashi, a junior at the University of Colorado-Boulder pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism.
  • Audrey Rodriguez, a student at CU-Boulder majoring in broadcasting with an emphasis on sports reporting.
  • Justin Guerriero, a junior at CU-Boulder who is majoring in broadcast production, with a double minor in history and communications.
  • Natalie Wadas, is a sophomore at CU-Boulder who is majoring in broadcast journalism.
  • Conner Davis, a CU-Boulder student majoring in journalism with a focus on photography.
  • Grace Carson, a third-year student at the University of Denver double-majoring in journalism and political science.
  • Bryden Smith, a student in the journalism certificate program at Arapahoe Community College and editor of the Arapahoe Pinnacle.
  • Serena Montoya, an ACC journalism student and an editor at the Pinnacle.
  • Emily Langenberg, also a student in the ACC journalism program and the Pinnacle’s managing editor.

Any Colorado journalism student, including high school students, may apply for the SPJ scholarships, which are announced at the chapter’s awards ceremony each spring. Students should contact journalism instructors or advisers on their campuses for information on how to apply, or they can visit http://www.spjcolorado.com.

SPJ Colorado Pro is excited to host the SPJ Region 9 Conference in Denver in 2018, Excellence in the Rockies.

This year, we’re featuring a weekend of Excellence in the Rockies. Whether you’re looking to learn new skills, hone the ones you already have or make new connections in the industry, it’s time to plan your trip. Please visit this website for more details about the conference.

After the sessions, grab a bite to eat and meet us at The Denver Press Club for the Top of the Rockies awards ceremony. We’re celebrating the best journalism in the region.


Tivoli_Fall2017-1 2

Tivoli Student Union, 900 Auraria Parkway. Photo provided by the Auraria Higher Education Center

Top of the Rockies

TOR2018 imageJoin us as we announce the winners from this year’s Top of the Rockies contest in Region 9. This is the best journalism in New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.


The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 20 at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place in Denver. A reception will start at 6 p.m.

Contest results will be announced on our website later in the evening.

Please let us know via Facebook that you will be in attendance so we can plan accordingly.
We’ll also honor the winners of SPJ Colorado’s First Amendment, Educator of the Year, Keeper of the Flame and Journalist of the Year awards.

john camperStudents and SPJ members are invited to attend a Fireside Chat with John Camper, newly appointed director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Camper, who will speak on law enforcement perspectives of media and on modern policing trends in Colorado, was appointed to his current position in October after nearly four decades in law enforcement, including his most recent post as chief of the Grand Junction Police Department.

R.S.V.P. for the event on Facebook.

gj event

From left, Ian Neligh, Carla Jean Whitley and Steve Knopper talk about their experiences writing and publishing books during careers mostly focused on newspaper and magazine writing Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Mesa County Library Central Branch in Grand Junction.

Turnout was low but conversation robust at a Feb. 11 SPJ Colorado Pro event in Grand Junction featuring three Colorado reporters-turned-authors.

Steve Knoppera Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson”  and “Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Business in the Digital Age”Ian Neligh, editor of the Clear Creek Courant and author of “Gold! Madness, Murder, and Mayhem in the Colorado Rockies”; and Carla Jean Whitley, features editor at the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent and author of “Birmingham Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Magic City” and “Music Shoals Sound Studio: How the Swampers Changed American Music” spoke at length about the process of researching, writing and publishing their full-length books.