Photojournalists offer snapshot of their careers

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.

Katie Kuntz doesn’t just report the pot beat

katiekuntz-firesidechat
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.

SPJ Colorado Pro visits CMU

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.

SPJ Colorado Pro visits Colorado State University’s journalism program

SPJ Lunch at CSU - Taking a break from their Oct. 2 lunch at Colorado State University in Fort Collins are, left to right: Tammy Matthews, graduate student; Anna Groeling, SPJ student chapter vice president; Erin Douglas, SPJ student chapter officer-at-large; Allison Dyer Bluemel, SPJ student chapter president; Estes Park Trail-Gazette news editor David Persons; Kris Kodrich, SPJ student chapter adviser and CSU journalism professor; Kate Winkle, editor-in-chief of the Rocky Mountain Collegian; and Evergreen Newspapers editor Doug Bell (foreground). Persons, Bell and SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter president Ed Otte spoke to two journalism classes before the lunch with the SPJ student chapter members.
SPJ Lunch at CSU – Taking a break from their Oct. 2 lunch at Colorado State University in Fort Collins are, left to right: Tammy Matthews, graduate student; Anna Groeling, SPJ student chapter vice president; Erin Douglas, SPJ student chapter officer-at-large; Allison Dyer Bluemel, SPJ student chapter president; Estes Park Trail-Gazette news editor David Persons; Kris Kodrich, SPJ student chapter adviser and CSU journalism professor; Kate Winkle, editor-in-chief of the Rocky Mountain Collegian; and Evergreen Newspapers editor Doug Bell (foreground). Persons, Bell and SPJ Colorado Pro Chapter president Ed Otte spoke to two journalism classes before the lunch with the SPJ student chapter members.

Colorado Pro chapter receives national award

The Colorado Pro Chapter received the Society of Professional Journalists 2014 large chapter Circle of Excellence Award for Professional Development and Education.

The award, based on programs and activities in 2013-2014, cited the Colorado Pro Chapter “in recognition of outstanding contributions and excellence in pro development and education.” The awards were announced at the annual SPJ convention Sept. 4-6 in Nashville.

The Colorado Pro Chapter received the large chapter Circle of Excellence Award for campus relations in 2012 and for chapter communications in 2010.

Large state chapters have more than 75 members. Small chapters have less than 75 members.

Here’s the list of 2014 Circle of Excellence Award winners:

Freedom of Information
Large Chapter – Press Club of Long Island
Small Chapter – Utah Headliners

Diversity
Large Chapter – Florida Pro
Small Chapter – Northwest Arkansas Pro

Campus Relations
Large Chapter – Fort Worth Pro
Small Chapter – Madison Pro

Professional Development
Large Chapter – Colorado Pro
Small Chapter – Rio Grande Pro

Chapter Communications
Large Chapter – Minnesota Pro
Small Chapter – East Tennessee Pro