The 2017 honorees of SPJ Colorado Pro’s four major awards are:
– Palmer Hoyt Journalist of the Year, which recognizes general excellence in journalism, is awarded to Sadie Gurman of The Associated Press. Gurman, formerly of the agency’s Denver bureau, now covers the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
She recently partnered with another journalist to report on police misuse of confidential databases. She also produced quality reporting on the Aurora theater shooter’s trial and the murder of the director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Gurman has also displayed a strong commitment to journalism through her support to the Denver Press Club as the former vice president of the board.
– Keeper of the Flame, which recognizes a distinguished career in journalism, is awarded to Doug Bell, recently retired editor of Evergreen Newspapers. Bell, formerly of the Coloradoan, the Rocky Mountain News, the Daily Camera and The Denver Post came to Evergreen Newspapers – a group of several weekly community newspapers – more than a decade ago.
During his tenure at Evergreen Newspapers and his time teaching at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Bell has mentored young journalists, bolstered SPJ Colorado Pro through board membership and involvement, been a vocal advocate for ethical journalism, and pushed his staff to cover violations of Colorado’s open meetings and open records laws.
– First Amendment, which recognizes work protecting free speech, open records and government transparency, is awarded to Nick Coltrain of the Coloradoan. Coltrain recently collaborated with other staffers at the Fort Collins daily newspaper on a massive investigation into Colorado State University employee salaries that revealed – among other findings – that those closest to the university president were awarded percentage-based raises that outpaced what was received by the university rank and file.
During the course of the project, Coltrain digitized the university’s entire salary exercise book by hand to create for the first time a digital, searchable salary guide.
– Journalism Educator of the Year, which recognizes dedication to the education of young journalists, is awarded to two recipients: Kristi Strother of the Community College of Denver and Shaun Schafer of the Metropolitan State University of Denver, who are co-advisors for the SPJ Auraria Student Chapter.
Strother is the CCD’s journalism department chair, an English professor and a faculty adviser for student publication for The Star, Journal of Excellence.
She worked in the newspaper industry with Gannett and Freedom Communications for more than 16 years, and has been an SPJ member since 1989 when she was a journalism student at the University of Oregon.
Schafer, associate chair of MSUD’s Department of Journalism and Technical Communication, worked as a reporter and editor in Chicago; San Francisco; Kansas City, Missouri; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Brisbane, Australia and Sydney, Australia. He previously taught journalism at Oklahoma State University before joining Metro State as an affiliate faculty member in 2006.
Schafer has also traveled to Egypt to lead classes and workshops for Egyptian journalism students and working journalists in Cairo and Alexandria for the past several years.