John C. Ensslin, giant of Colorado journalism, dies


A memorial observance was held Aug. 12 at the Denver Press Club for the late John C. Ensslin, a former president of SPJ national. Dan Petty (left), president of the Press Club, welcomes guests. Denver Councilman Kevin Flynn (right), a former reporter for the late Rocky Mountain News and colleague of Ensslin, read a city proclamation. Friends and colleagues filled the Club to fire-marshal capacity. Here is an obit from The Gazette of Colorado Springs.


By Joey Bunch, For The Gazette, Colorado Springs


Colorado Politics reporter John C. Ensslin was found   dead in his Denver apartment Monday (Aug. 5).

Ensslin joined the staff of Colorado Politics in March,   focusing on Denver politics.

But his heralded career in Colorado goes back decades. He has been a member of  the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame since 2007 and was a past president of that institution.

He was a man of uncommon compassion and good cheer,   agree those of us who knew and loved him.

Continue reading “John C. Ensslin, giant of Colorado journalism, dies”

Highlights from #SPJ9

What does it mean to be a journalist in the West? That was the question I ended up pondering on my way home from the SPJ Region 9 Conference hosted by the Utah Headliners chapter this weekend.

Perhaps, from Wyoming to New Mexico and from Utah across the border to Colorado, we’re rather good at managing our resources. We recognize diversity, whether it’s political, religious or demographic. As truth tellers we know the value of honest news and how communities can benefit from real context and explaining real consequences.

Reporters in the West, as was showcased at SPJ9, realize (even if subconsciously) the issues we cover are issues for our neighbors in surrounding states.

Utah Headliners covered an array of topics. Covering marijuana or polygamy may sound state-specific. But they’re not. As Westword marijuana editor Kate McKee Simmons explained in her session, Colorado’s decision to legalize set forth a trend that’s unlikely to slow down. It’s also unlikely to become less controversial in the coming years.

Nate Carlisle, a reporter at the Salt Lake City Tribute who covers polygamy, showed that the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints is dispersing into other states, away from Utah, and why it’s a big deal.

Even more impressive than the panels themselves was perhaps the number of students attending the conference. SPJ Colorado sponsored three students from SPJ student chapters in Colorado, CSU, Mesa and the Auraria campus.

Here are a few of the students picking up awards at Saturday’s luncheon. 

Auraria students
Auraria student chapter
CSU students
CSU students

Next year SPJ Colorado will be hosting the Region 9 conference in Denver. If there’s something you would like to see us feature or talk about let us know by sending an email to

Until then, keep the West wild.

— Kara Mason

SPJ Colorado Pro President

SPJ Colorado Pro presents speakers to Auraria chapter students


Society of Professional Journalists Auraria chapter president Aaron Graff introduces speakers at the Feb. 5 multimedia journalism program on the Auraria campus. Phil Tenser, digital executive producer at KMGH 7News; Jim Hill, digital media manager at KUNC public radio; Gil Asakawa, manager of student media at CU-Boulder; and Dan Petty, digital director of sports at The Denver Post, explained the multimedia operations at their respective organizations. The program,cosponsored by the SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter and the Auraria campus chapter, attracted 44 journalism students and faculty.

Key information for the Top of the Rockies contest

The 2015 Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism contest opens Feb. 1!

Download a pdf version of all the rules and contest categories here:

Enter your award-winning entries at Better Newspaper Contest’s website and click on “contestant login” then, as an “authorized entrant” select Top of the Rockies 2014 from the pull-down menu.

Key dates:

  • Feb. 1, 2015 Contest opens
  • March 1, 2015 Contest closes at midnight
  • March 1, 2015 Payment due with entries
  • March 15-April 11 Judging period
  • April 19, 2015 Winners notified
  • May 15, 2015 Awards reception at the Denver Press Club

Questions? Email Contest Chair Deb Hurley Brobst at