Society of Professional Journalists Announce Mark of Excellence Award Winners

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) have announced the winners of the Mark of Excellence Region 9 awards. Region 9 comprises Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

MOE Awards entries are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. Judges were directed to choose entries they felt were among the best in student journalism. If no entry rose to the level of excellence, no award was given. Any category not listed has no winner.

School divisions are based on student enrollment, including both graduate and undergraduate: Large schools have at least 10,000 students and small schools have 9,999 or fewer students.

Certificates will be mailed next week to schools.

Newspapers

Breaking News Reporting:

Winner: Decker Westenburg; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University “Former BYU professor charged with sexually abusing a student pleads not guilty”
Finalist: Kayleigh Silverstein, Jack O’Leary; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “22 Forever: U campus community gathers at candlelight vigil to honor student-athlete Aaron Lowe”
Finalist: Ernesto Cisneros, Luis Rios and Hannah Zamora; The Round Up; New Mexico State University: “Resident assistants raise concerns about pay and working conditions”

General News Reporting:

Winner: Cassidy Wixom; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University; “BYU, Utah women find healing amid high rates of sexual assault”
Finalist: Noelle Mason; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University: “Reflecting on research: A year of COVID-19 at CSU”
Finalist: Cinthia Cortez; The Mirror; University of Northern Colorado: “UNC students, community members experience difficulties at University Flats”

InDepth Reporting:

Winner: Cassidy Wixom; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University: “Vatican pronouncement highlights clash between gay marriage and religious freedom”
Finalist: Sarah Earnshaw; The Signpost; Weber State University: “Mine of local legend sealed”
Finalist: Abhilasha Khatri and Haley Utendorfer; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Native American Heritage Month: Recognizing history and moving forward”

Feature Writing:

Winner: Drew Reynolds; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Land art, vandalism and Utah’s natural environment”
Finalist: Emily White; The Utah Statesman; Utah State University: “Undetected light”
Finalist: Rachel Lorenz; Albuquerque Journal Metropolitan State University of Denver: “Back to the Fairgrounds: After a year away, NM State Fair vendors are optimistic despite challenges”

Sports Column Writing:

Winner: Jackson Payne; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University: Sports columns

Sports Writing:

Winner: Joseph Hovey; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University: “A bond and brotherhood: How 7 returned missionaries are thriving with Stanford football”

Editorial Writing:

Winner: Editorial Board; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Campus police, college tuition, divestment”
Finalist: Aya Hibben: The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Women’s safety, the Gabby Petito case, Olympic athletes”
Finalist: KC Ellen Cushman; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Nonviolent offenders, plea deals, junk science”

General Column Writing:

Winner: Megan Cowdell; The Utah Statesman; Utah State University: “Tackling student, local and national issues”
Finalist: Sydney Kincart; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Kincart on MMIW, Deznat and the LDS church”
Finalist: KC Ellen Cushman; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah; “Cushman on domestic violence, tax rhetoric, stereotypes about sex”

Arts/Fashion Journalism:

Winner: Lee Kedem; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah; “Met Gala 2021 a fashion spectacle but at the expense of safety?”
Finalist: Paige Gardner; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Examining environmental traditions through maize with artist Jorge Rojas”
Finalist: Rachel Lorenz; The Denver North Star; Metropolitan State University of Denver: ‘North Denver theaters “Keep The Arts Alive”‘

Cultural Criticism:

Winner: Megan Fisher and Luke Jackson; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Film and television critiques”
Finalist: Emma Feuz; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Diwali Unites”
Finalist: Paige Gardner, Tervela Georgieva, India Bown and Hannah Keating; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: Performing arts critiques

Food/Restaurant Journalism:

Winner: Tri Duong; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University; “Yum Yum’s Lebanese restaurant is a Fort Collins institution”
Finalist: Hattie Williams and Zeya Highley; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University: “CTV Cooks: Burger battle”

Corbin Gwaltney Award for Best All-Around Student Newspaper:

Winner: Staff; The Signpost; Weber State University
Finalist: Staff; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah
Finalist: Staff; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University 

Magazine

Best Student Magazine:

Winner: Staff; The Bold Magazine; University of Colorado Boulder
Finalist: Staff; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University
Finalist: Jenna Duke; Talon Magazine; Community College of Denver

Online

Best Independent Online Student Publication:

Winner: Staff; Arapahoe Pinnacle; Arapahoe Community College

Arts and Graphics

Breaking News Photography:

Winner: Jack Gambassi; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah” “22 Forever: U campus community gathers at candlelight vigil to honor student-athlete Aaron Lowe”
Finalist: Sarah Earnshaw; The Signpost; Weber State University: “Inauguration Day stays quiet”
Finalist: Grayson Reed; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University: “Contention captured: Preachers on the plaza”

General News Photography:

Winner: Devin Cornelius; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University: “Colorado Air Show”
Finalist: Gwen Christopherson; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Utah’s fossil fuel industry: Is divestment possible?”
Finalist: Brooklyn Kilgore; The Signpost; Weber State University: “COVID testing”

Feature Photography:

Winner: Tri Duong; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University: “Excited for the show”
Finalist: Brooklyn Critchley; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Buening: protect our pollinators”
Finalist: Molly Thomas; Talon Magazine; Community College of Denver: “Bring a good camera and wear the right shoes: lessons From a protest”

Sports Photography:

Winner: Milo Gladstein; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University: “Logging”
Finalist: Jack Gambassi; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Utah Men’s swim and dive falls to No. 2 California in hard fought dual meet”
Finalist: Dallin Wilks; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University: “Victory touchdown”

Photo Illustration:

Winner: Sydney Stam; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “The Chrony sports desk’s favorite athletes of all time”
Finalist: Skyler Pradhan; Rocky Mountain Collegian; Colorado State University: “Water bottle”
Finalist: Cyan Larson; The Daily Utah Chronicle; University of Utah: “Kincart: Another blow to the Voting Rights Act should spark worry”

Videography

Broadcast/Online News Videography

Winner: William Bultez; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Veterans vigil”
Finalist: Natalie Devereaux; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University: “Family-owned businesses struggle with shortages”
Finalist: Kenneth Frederick; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University: “Houska blood drive”

Broadcast/Online Feature Videography

Winner: Robbie Patla; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University: “CSU bug zoo”
Finalist: Tom Isaacson; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University: “All Sales Vinyl”
Finalist: Ren Wadsworth; CTV: Collegian Television; Colorado State University: “Cam the Ram”

Broadcast/Online Sports Videography:

Winner: Ashley Pasley; The Daily Universe; Brigham Young University: “From Santiago to Tokyo: A BYU swimmer’s journey to the Olympics”
Finalist: Sarah Murphy; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Trash car racing”

Podcast:

Winner: Staff; The Revolution, Rev 89; Colorado State University: “Pueblo Talking on La Frontera”
Finalist: Staff; The Revolution, Rev 89; Colorado State University: “Pueblo Bulls Ice”

Television

Television Breaking News Reporting:

Winner: Staff; A-TV News Utah State University: “October storm hits Logan”

Television General News Reporting:

Winner: Natalie Schiller; DU Media; University of Denver: “Sexual assault rates on college campuses higher than you might think”
Finalist: Joe Belnap; Universe Live; Brigham Young University: “Distracted driving dangers plague Provo”
Finalist: Sam Walker; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Spider goats”

Television Feature Reporting:

Finalist: Linneya Gardner, Haley Birt; DU Media; University of Denver: “Artist Santiago Jaramillo connects community and heritage”
Finalist: Linneya Gardner; DU Media; University of Denver: “Photography professor finds personal connection with 1917 family album”
Finalist: Sarah Murphy; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Sarah says thanks”

Television In-Depth Reporting:

Winner: Jonathan May; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Biden riles Catholics”
Finalist: Carly Wasserlein; Universe Live; Brigham Young University: “Provo moves to more sustainable power practices”
Finalist: Ally Arnold O’Rullian; Universe Live; Brigham Young University: “Campus safety: Testing campus resources”

Television Sports Reporting:

Winner: Sarah Murphy; A-TV News; Utah State University: “Trash car racing”
Finalist: Emma Feuz; A-TV News; Utah State University: “NBA coach retires”

Best All-Around Television News Magazine:

Winner: Staff, A-TV News; Utah State University: “Cache Rendezvous”

Best All-Around Television Newscast:

Finalist: Universe Live Staff; Universe Live; Brigham Young University

SPJ Colorado Pro announces conference lineup

The Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter is pleased to announce the lineup for the spring 2022 Region 9 conference, “Face to Face: Local Journalism in a Virtual World,” April 8-9 at the Auraria Higher Education Campus in Denver.

The two-day conference will feature 30+ journalists and experts from across the region.

Sessions include: Freelancing 101, Resume Workshop, Podcasting + Local News, Social Media Reporting + Shameless Self-Promotion, Solutions Journalism, Mental Health in Journalism, How to Get a Journalism Job, Government by Zoom, Diversity in Newsrooms & Sources, Investigative Journalism 101, How They Got the Story and A Half-Century in Photos.

Virtual tickets are $50 and will include livestream access to all sessions. In-person tickets are $75 and include light refreshments, a swag bag and entry to the Top of the Rockies awards reception at the Denver Press Club on Saturday night.

Student registration is free.

More information is available on Eventbrite. Please send questions to SPJColorado@gmail.com.

SPJ Colorado Pro stands with Regis Jesuit High School student journalists

The Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter and Colorado Student Media Association strongly condemn the firing of two Regis Jesuit High School journalism advisers and the censorship of student journalists over an opinion column published in the now-retracted winter edition of the student magazine. 

In the column, students followed the abiding standards of responsible journalism to argue in favor of keeping abortion legal in the United States.

Spurring this debate, in a publication affiliated with the Catholic Church no less, is well within the spirit of the Society of Professional Journalists’ preamble. We believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. 

The retaliation Regis Jesuit students and teachers were subjected to by school administrators is a chilling example of what happens when those in positions of power fundamentally misunderstand the importance of free speech and a free press, both of which are enshrined in our country’s First Amendment alongside freedom of religion.

While we recognize there is little legal protection or recourse for student journalists at a private institution, the retaliatory actions and censorship by Regis Jesuit High School administration are  unacceptable and contradict a fundamental principle of both faith and journalism: the pursuit of truth. 

We stand in support of Regis Jesuit High School’s student journalists and call on school administrators to establish a policy that ensures student journalists can seek truth and report it without interference, censorship or fear of retaliation.

SPJ Colorado pro chapter to host regional conference

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Colorado Pro Chapter is hosting Face to Face: Local Journalism in a Virtual World, a hybrid conference for SPJ’s Region 9, on April 8-9 on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, with Metropolitan State University and Community College of Denver as presenting sponsors.

The conference kicks off Friday afternoon, April 8, with sessions featuring local journalists who know what it’s like to deeply cover their communities and will discuss freelancing, starting a podcast, social media reporting and more.

Saturday’s sessions, April 9, will include panels on mental health in journalism, virtual public meeting coverage, diversifying sources, investigative journalism and “How They Got the Story.”

All sessions will be livestreamed for virtual attendees.

In-person attendees are also invited to register for the Top of the Rockies awards celebration at the Denver Press Club on Saturday night.

In-person registration is $75, virtual registration is $50 and student registration is free.For more information, visit spjcolorado.org or email SPJColorado@gmail.com

Top of the rockies contest deadline extended

Administered for more than a decade by the SPJ Colorado Professional Chapter on behalf of SPJ chapters in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.

For more information and questions: Email contest chair Deb Hurley Brobst at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com for answers to contest-related questions.

Website: https://betternewspapercontest.com

Top of the Rockies is a regional, multi-platform contest for reporters and news organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The contest grew from a Colorado-only contest on the heels of the closure of the Rocky Mountain News in 2009 to ensure a robust and competitive field. It is sponsored and managed by the SPJ Colorado Pro.

Contest opens: Monday, Dec. 13
Contest closes: 10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26

Awards will be announced at the reception on Saturday, April 9, at the Denver Press Club.

Cocktail hour will be from 5:30-6:30 p.m., with the awards announcement at 6:30 p.m.

Free hors d’oeuvres; cash bar.

Cost: $15 per entry

Note 1: You do not need to be an SPJ member to enter the contest, but we always welcome new members.

Note 2: The SPJ Colorado Professional board of directors does not allow entries in which
content was subsidized by private businesses with an interest in the covered topic.

Contest rules:
• Entries must have been published (print or online)/broadcast in the 2021 calendar year.
• An entry may be placed in one writing category and one visual category. The entry also may be placed in the Public Service and/or Multimedia Story.
• Media outlets are limited to three entries per category.
• All categories are now open to news media outlets in all platforms. You’ll be up against the best from all platforms in the region.

Divisions: Top of the Rockies has four divisions based on newsroom staff size: small
newsrooms; medium newsrooms; large newsrooms; extra-large newsrooms. News
organizations are allowed to compete in a division with a larger staff size; they are not
permitted to drop a division. If your news organization has not been placed in one of the new divisions, contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.

How to enter:
There are two types of contestants in the website. Which one are you: A media outlet or a freelancer?

If you are a media outlet:
• Visit the betternewspapercontest.com website.
• Click on “Contestant Login.”
• Select 2022 Top of the Rockies under “Select a Contest.”
• Check to see if your media outlet is listed under “Select Media Organization.” If you DO NOT see it, contact Deb Hurley at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.
• If you see your media outlet, select it and type in your password. If you DO NOT know your password, contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.
• Then place your entries. When your media outlet is done placing entries, pay your bill by clicking on “Calculate Entry Fee” in the top right corner and follow the directions. You can print a receipt after you pay your fees.
• If your media outlet’s website has a pay wall, please make sure your entries are available to the judges. Either make sure they are free content or submit a PDF instead. Nothing frustrates judges more than not having access to entries because they are blocked. Blocked entries may be disqualified at the discretion of the judges.

If you are a freelancer:
• Visit the betternewspapercontest.com website.
• Click on “Open Call Login.”
• If you have entered before, put in your e-mail address and password. The contest coordinator DOES NOT have access to your password, so click “forgot password” and follow the directions if you need to reset it.
• If you are new to our contest, click on “create your Open Call account” and follow the
directions.
• Email Deb Hurley Brobst at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com if you have any questions.
• Place your entries. When you are done placing entries, pay your bill by clicking on “Calculate Entry Fee” in the top right corner and follow the directions.
• If your media outlet’s website has a pay wall, please make sure your entries are available to the judges. Either make sure they are free content or submit a PDF instead. Nothing frustrates judges more than not having access to entries because they are blocked.

About the awards process

Colorado SPJ hosts a winners’ reception with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar at the Denver Press Club, and a list of winners will be available on our website, coloradospj.wordpress.com. If, due to COVID-19, the awards ceremony is canceled, we will make available on our website a list of winners, and the certificates will be mailed to contestants.

All judges’ decisions are final in category placement as well as entry evaluation. Entries will be judged on overall excellence, service to the community, and contributions to the public’s understanding of issues and events. Judging criteria may also include depth of research, quality of presentation, and difficulty in obtaining information. Deadline pressure is a factor only in those categories identified as “deadline.”

If, in the opinion of the judges, none of the entries in a given category meets the standards of excellence, no award will be made in that category. Judges may reject entries that do not conform with contest rules.

2022 Top of the Rockies contest categories

WRITING CATEGORIES
• News Reporting, Single Story: Single news story (and related sidebars, if
applicable).
• Breaking News Story: A single story or package of a breaking news event
occurring over a 24-hour period.
• General Reporting, Series or Package: A series of stories on one topic or a
package of stories that runs simultaneously (submit all stories).
• Enterprise Reporting: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that
demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.
Extended Coverage: A package of stories exploring one issue in depth. This could
be a special section.
• Feature Writing — long form: Includes profiles, analysis and other stories written
in a feature format that are more than 1,500 words or longer than 3 minutes in
length.
• Feature Writing — short form: Includes profiles, analysis and other stories
written in a feature format that are fewer than 1,500 words or shorter than 3
minutes in length.
• Best Solutions Journalism: A story or series that includes in-depth reporting on a
response/s to a problem.
• Podcast: Enter up to 3 episodes.
• Social Justice Reporting: A story, series or package of stories on social justice
issues.
• Climate Reporting: A story, series or package of stories on climate change, global
warming or other similar large-scale changes affecting local areas.
• Obit Writing: A feature story about someone who has died.
• Beat Reporting: A collection of up to six stories from one reporter on a particular
beat. Attach a one-sentence description of your beat.
• Personal/Humor Columns: Submit up to 3 columns per entry.
• News Columns: Submit up to 3 columns per entry.
Editorials: Submit up to 3 editorials per entry.
• Public Service: An article or a package or series of stories on one topic that
demonstrates exceptional coverage on a topic or issue that is important to the
community.
• Multimedia Story: A cohesive web package that can include words, photos,
graphics, audio, video and/or graphics.
• Sports News: Single story, package or series.
• Sports Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Sports Columns: Submit up to 3 columns per entry.
• Business News: Single story, package or series.
• Business Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Business Enterprise Reporting: An article, or a package or series of stories on
one topic that demonstrates exceptional enterprise or investigative effort.
• A&E and Food Reporting News or Feature: A single story or a series on dining
and nightlife, film, television, music, art, architecture, theater or dance.
• A&E and Food Criticism: Submit up to 3 columns or reviews.
• Education News: Single story, package or series.
• Education Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Politics News: Single story, package or series.
• Politics Feature: Single story, package or series.
•Legal News: Single story, package or series.
• Legal Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Science and Technology News: Single story, package or series.
• Science and Technology Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Agriculture or Environment News: Single story, package or series.
• Agriculture or Environment Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Health News: Single story, package or series.
• Health Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Mental Health News: Single story, package or series.
• Mental Health Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Religion News: Single story, package or series.
• Religion Feature: Single story, package or series.
• Headline writing: Submit 3 headlines with the accompanying articles.

VISUAL CATEGORIES
• Front Page Design: A front page or cover of your publication.
• Single Page Design: A single page or a section cover of your publication.
• Feature Page Design: A single page or feature cover of your publication.
• Information Graphic: Submit the graphic with the accompanying article.
• Editorial Cartoons: Submit up to 3 cartoons that show the point of view of the
cartoonist.
• Illustration: Artwork accompanying a news or feature story to enhance the story’s
meaning.
• Spot News Photography/Videography: One or more photos or videos on a
breaking news story.
• News Photography/Videography: One or more photos or videos on a news story.
• Feature Photography/Videography: One or more photos or videos on a feature
story.
• Sports Photography/Videography: One or more photos or videos on a sports
story.
• Climate Photography/Videography: One or more photos or videos on the
COVID-19 pandemic.
• Social Justice Photography/Videography: One or more photos or videos on a
social justice story.