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.
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 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.
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.
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.