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Archive for the ‘Chapter News’ Category

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 news@spjcolorado.com.

Until then, keep the West wild.

— Kara Mason

SPJ Colorado Pro President
@karanormal

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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.

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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: https://coloradospj.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/2015-tor-rules.pdf.

Enter your award-winning entries at Better Newspaper Contest’s website www.betternewspapercontest.com 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 DChurley@aol.com.

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The Colorado Pro chapter of the Society of Professional held its annual Holiday Party Dec. 12 at the Denver Press Club. Our best to you for a festive and safe Holiday and Happy New Year!

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Telling a Story Visually: Colorado Photojournalists Show and Discuss Their Work" featured Josh Polson, far left, of the Greeley Tribune, Jenny Sparks of the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Kenn Bisio of Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Walt Hester of the Estes Park Trail-Gazette at a Nov. 13 workshop at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The program was sponsored by the Colorado Pro SPJ Chapter and the CSU student SPJ chapter.

Telling a Story Visually: Colorado Photojournalists Show and Discuss Their Work” featured Josh Polson, far left, of the Greeley Tribune, Jenny Sparks of the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Kenn Bisio of Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Walt Hester of the Estes Park Trail-Gazette at a Nov. 13 workshop at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The program was sponsored by the Colorado Pro SPJ Chapter and the CSU student SPJ chapter.

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By Vicky Gits

Since Katie Kuntz, 22, joined Rocky Mountain PBS I-News in July after graduation from the University of Iowa two months earlier, she has become somewhat famous on the Internet as a chronicler of marijuana news. In addition to public television, her stories get play in medical marijuana publications such as 420 Magazine.

She even gets mail from people asking her how to get a job in the marijuana industry. But the reporting on medical and recreational marijuana news is only part of her job.

Lately she has been working her way through murky government databases to uncover the unnamed donors behind the outrageous campaign ads. Sound boring? Kuntz loves it. “It was fun going through the mental aerobics to find out about this,” Kuntz said.

For a young, twentysomething, Kuntz has chalked up an impressive track record.

Kuntz described her career path and life as a multimedia investigative reporter at an Oct. 15 Fireside Chat at the Denver Press Club. The program was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Founded by Laura Frank, a former investigative reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, I-News produces in-depth stories and investigative reports that are shared with its television, radio and print partners and other outlets.

In Iowa, Kuntz won the 2014 SPJ Region 7 online reporting Mark of Excellence Award for “Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in Council Bluffs.”

Kuntz said her path to I-News out of college was paved by degrees in both economics and journalism from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She was valedictorian of the journalism program as well as in the top five percent of her graduating class of more than 2,500.

She was also offered a job at a Washington D.C. television station before being hired at I-News.

Contributors to candidates for the state legislature and state ballot propositions are relatively transparent compared to U.S. Congressional elections, Kuntz said. “Colorado is pretty good. We know clearly who is paying for what…. State elections are a lot less hidden. If you are a group you still have to list who your contributors were.”

In contrast, the Federal Election Commission is extremely lax in enforcing the law so it isn’t unusual to see a donation that is 10 times more than the legal contribution limit. “It was surprising to find how rarely the laws are enforced,” Kuntz said.

Financial players, such as investment banks, tend to contribute equally to both sides of an issue. The most dollars being spent in the state come from the backers of the campaign to expand casino gambling to racetracks, she said.

In her election-finance coverage, Kuntz found the main obstacle is that political nonprofits don’t have to disclose their donors. But they do have to disclose to whom they gave money. “If I’m Freedom Partners I don’t have to say who gave me money but I have to say who I gave money to.”

It isn’t clear that people are using election-contribution information to make voting decisions, Kuntz said. Voters she has interviewed say they no longer want to participate in the system because corporations are spending so much money.

Kuntz said data-driven stories have a high priority in the newsroom because other outlets don’t have the time to do the work. One of the data-journalists on staff has a degree in aerospace engineering and another is fluent in another language. I-News just hired a new data journalist and has a total of two on staff out of a total of seven.

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SPJ Pizza Party at CMU - Journalism students and faculty enjoy pizza during a Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter visit on Oct. 6 to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Beecher Threatt, co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer; Richie Ann Ashcraft, web content editor of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel; Brian Calvert, associate editor of High Country News; and SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter president Ed Otte spoke to two journalism classes before the lunch.

SPJ Pizza Party at CMU – Journalism students and faculty enjoy pizza during a Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter visit on Oct. 6 to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Beecher Threatt, co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer; Richie Ann Ashcraft, web content editor of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel; Brian Calvert, associate editor of High Country News; and SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter president Ed Otte spoke to two journalism classes before the lunch.

Colorado Mesa University journalism professor Eric Sandstrom is pictured in his office with the 2014 SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter Journalism Educator of the Year award he received in April. Sandstrom, adviser to the CMU student SPJ chapter and to the campus newspaper, hosted an SPJ visit on Oct. 6 at CMU.

Colorado Mesa University journalism professor Eric Sandstrom is pictured in his office with the 2014 SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter Journalism Educator of the Year award he received in April. Sandstrom, adviser to the CMU student SPJ chapter and to the campus newspaper, hosted an SPJ visit on Oct. 6 at CMU.

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