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.

Want to go to SPJ EIJ? July Elections and June Programs reminder

We hope everyone’s summer is going well. We’ve got an information-packed Newsletter, including: a chance to let Colorado Pro help YOU go to the SPJ Excellence in Journalism national conference Sept. 4; A public radio primer at a June 26 Fireside chat at the Denver Press club; July elections (call for candidates) and a chapter board member update.

 WHO WANTS TO GO TO SPJ EIJ?

SPJ’s national conference, Excellence in Journalism, is Sept. 4-6 in Nashville. As part of our commitment to professional development, the Colorado Pro chapter gives a member in good standing $500 to apply towards hotel, airfare and/or conference registration. You must be a Colorado Pro member (“in good standing” means you paid your dues for 2014! 😉 Please send us an email (president@spjcolorado.com) of why we should send you by July 15 and the board will pick a winner by July 21. The stipend will reimburse expenses; it’s not an advance.

Here’s what 2013’s winner Boulder freelance writer Jayme Moye had to say about her EIJ experience in California: “I’d say the best part of the national conference is the networking. I got lost walking to a bowling alley in Anaheim with the President of the Colorado Chapter of SPJ (Dennis Huspeni) and ended up with a board position … talked teaching positions with the University of Colorado’s Director of Journalism and Mass Communication (Christopher Braider), had lunch (and landed an assignment) with a senior editor at the Christian Science Monitor, and mentored a college student from Kentucky over burgers and fries.”

THE STATE OF COMMUNITY PUBLIC RADIO

Harvest Public Media reporter Luke Runyon and KUNC reporter Grace Hood will discuss community public radio in a Fireside Chat at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm. Admission is free and the event is open to all.

Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR in Kansas City, is a network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest that covers agriculture and agribusiness. Runyon joined KUNC in Greeley in 2013 after spending two years as a reporter at Aspen Public Radio.

Since joining KUNC in 2008, Hood has won a number of state, regional and national awards. She received the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize in 2012 from the Boston NPR news station for her series “Investigating Colorado’s Online K-12 Schools.” She also received the national Edward R. Murrow awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012 for her feature and investigative reporting.

JULY BOARD MEMBER ELECTIONS:

My name is Deb Hurley. I’m the contributing editor at Evergreen Newspapers and the elections chair for the Colorado Professional Chapter of SPJ. I am calling for self-nominations for the five positions up for election on the board: four directors at-large and the secretary. Per the chapter’s bylaws, the president-elect Ed Otte, who you elected last year, will automatically become president of the chapter without a vote.

Board meetings are held once per month, and board members may attend in person or via conference call/Google hangout. Board members may reside anywhere in Colorado, and must be members in good standing with national SPJ and the Colorado Professional Chapter.

To indicate your willingness to run for a position and to serve on the board, please e-mail me (dchurley@aol.com) your name, the position you are interested in, a photo, a biography of no more than 250 words and a statement of no more than 200 words explaining why you want to be on the board. Deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, July 11.

The election information will be e-mailed to all members of Colorado Pro on July 18, and you will have until noon on Friday, July 25, to cast your ballot.

If you have any questions about the process, the duties or how you can get involved with Colorado Pro – whether as a board member or as a volunteer – please contact me at 303-601-8098 or at dchurley@aol.com or contact Dennis Huspeni at 719-648-0055 or president@spjcolorado.com

 ANNUAL REPORT

The board had three members (Otte, Cara DeGette and Vicky Gits) review the chapter’s finances for 2013/14 earlier this month. We sent the annual report to national and anticipate getting our “good standing” certification in September at EIJ. Thanks for a successful year, members.

FROM THE PRESIDENT: On a personal note, it’s been tremendous serving as your president for the past two years. There are ton of great journalists in this state who care deeply about the state and future of journalism. Your president-elect Ed Otte takes over in August and will do a fantastic job, as he did with the Colorado Press Association. After more than 5 years on the board, I’m resigning effective the end of July when my term expires. That’s for two reasons: I’ve taken job in public relations and it will give other members a chance to serve on the board and I encourage you to do so! Thank you for a rewarding two years.

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HEY politicians – we journos are following the $!

By Ed Otte

“Follow the money” is a popular saying from the 1976 movie “All The President’s Men.” It was also the message at a May 1 program about transparency and open government at the Denver Press Club.

Sandra Fish and Nancy Watzman lead a workshop on following the money of today's politics.
Sandra Fish and Nancy Watzman lead a workshop on following the money of today’s politics.

Nancy Watzman of the Sunlight Foundation and Sandra Fish with the Journalism & Women Symposium explained how to research election campaign finances. “Tools for Journalists: Following the Colorado Money” was cosponsored by JAWS and the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

“The primary races will be really important,” Fish said. “A lot of money will be coming in for those and a lot of money will be spent on ballot initiatives. With the resources available on the Sunlight website and the (Colorado) Secretary of State website, you’ll find useful information for many stories.”

Watzman’s PowerPoint demonstration showed the various categories and links available on the Sunlight site at http://www.SunlightFoundation.com.

“The Realtime Federal Campaign Finance tracker gives you up-to-the-minute filings,” she said. “Political Ad Sleuth shows you who’s buying airtime for political ads. Old-fashioned reporting can find some of the funding sources for the groups that buy ads, the ‘grassroots’ funding sources.

“Scout is another really, really useful tool. It searches for key phrases in legislation and will send you email and text alerts on specific issues.”

Fish said following campaign donation activity is important because “Amendment 27 changed the playing field, shifting power from candidates and parties. It sharply regulates how much money you can give to campaigns. Now, 527s and IE (Independent Expenditure) Committees are powerful here.”

Amendment 27 was passed by 66 percent of Colorado voters in 2002. It was designed to curb the influence of special interest groups by limiting the amounts and types of political contributions.

The Tracer link on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website (www.sos.state.co.us) “will help you with stories about cash,” Fish said. “Who’s buying TV ads. Who gives the most? It can sort to see who’s given the most in an election cycle. For example, you can see who spent money, and how much, in the 2010 GOP governor races.”

Watzman encouraged journalists to look at additional training opportunities, including free webinars and other online tools, on the Sunlight Academy link on the Foundation’s website. She also explained that the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization’s name comes from a 1913 quote by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”

“That’s why,” she said, “we believe in making government accountable and transparent.”

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SPJ Top of the Rockies results here

SPJ Colorado Pro chapter president Dennis Huspeni, left congratulates Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dave Philipps of The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, who received the Journalist of the Year award at the Top of the Rockies Awards presentation.
SPJ Colorado Pro chapter president Dennis Huspeni, left congratulates Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dave Philipps of The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, who received the Journalist of the Year award at the Top of the Rockies Awards presentation.

What a fantastic night at the Denver Press Club Friday for the SPJ Region 9 Top of the Rockies journalism competition Awards reception. Congratulations to all the winners (all 450 of you!) Here the results in an Excel file. judgments-results-528.1395761152

We will mail certificates to you folks who couldn’t make it (hopefully in the next week). Thanks to everyone for making it a great contest.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dave Philipps of The (Colorado Springs) Gazette received the Journalist of the Year award Friday from the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The award was one of four special honors announced at the chapter’s annual awards ceremony at the Denver Press Club. The contest awards went to journalists in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Philipps won the 2014 Pulitzer on April 14 for his series “Other Than Honorable” that examined how soldiers injured during war were being discharged with no benefits. The SPJ award was for the same stories which were published in The Gazette in May 2013.

“Dave Philipps would be the first to tell you there are many others deserving of this award. But his work exemplifies the best of what we all endeavor to do,” said Jim Anderson , news editor Denver’s AP bureau and Colorado Pro board member.

“As the Gazette put it in an editorial on Dave’s work: ‘Philipps is just the latest in a distinguished line of reporters proving that investigative journalism is alive, well and in demand. … When the Pulitzer Committee chooses the best in mass communication, it looks for examples of research and storytelling that expose truth and bring about constructive public policy,” Anderson said. “Dave Philipps has done just that.”

7News received the SPJ First Amendment Award for the Denver TV station’s ongoing series titled “Contrary to the Public Interest” about problems with Colorado’s open records laws.

“It was an ambitious, and important, project. During months of investigations, Channel 7 found that — while Colorado’s open records laws are supposed to keep government officials accountable — getting documents can mean paying huge fees or becoming tangled in expensive legal battles,” said Cara DeGette, board member.

SPJ’s Keeper of the Flame Award, which recognizes a distinguished career in journalism, went to Westword editor Patty Calhoun.

“Westword, which started 37 years ago as a feisty alternative newspaper, is now a journalistic institution and a respect member of Denver’s media landscape,” said Gil Asakawa. “Patty Calhoun, one of the founders, is the editorial vision behind Westword, and has trained dozens of journalists — like me — on the job.”

Colorado Mesa University assistant professor Eric Sandstrom received the SPJ Journalism Educator of the Year Award.

Sandstrom was cited for his contributions to the school’s journalism program as faculty adviser to the campus newspaper and for his work in the classroom. He also was instrumental in establishing a student SPJ chapter in 2012 at the Grand Junction university. Prior to joining CMU in 2007, Sandstrom worked at newspapers in Ohio, Illinois and Nebraska and taught at Kent State University and Cleveland State University.

 

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Top of Rockies set to ROCK DPC, Scholarship winners and more ….

It’s April and Colorado Pro is hoping your Spring has sprung. We are deep into planning for our biggest event of the year, the Top of the Rockies Awards Reception Friday April 25 at the Denver Press Club. More details below, but we hope you all can make it. We’ve awarded our 2014 scholarships and there’s also a cool May program coming up.

Top of the Rockies to ROCK the Denver Press Club

The Top of the Rockies Awards night, as we said, is next week! The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 25, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm, Denver. After socializing, networking, beverages and light appetizers, we’ll start the awards presentation at 7 p.m. We’ve got a NEW format for announcing awards that doesn’t involve a lot of name reading (don’t worry, you all will still get cool recognition in front of your peers). With a record number of entries this year, we’re expecting a lot of attendees to celebrate recognition for a lot of hard work and fantastic journalism in 2013. Entry is free to winners and we’ll ask for a small donation from others to help defray costs. Light appetizers will be provided with a cash bar. Our keynote speaker is Patty Calhoun, editor of Westword. Don’t forget to RSVP on our Facebook page, so we know how much food to make.

2014 Scholarship Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s scholarships by SPJ’s Colorado Pro chapter. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit, need and desire to be a journalist.
We had more applicants this year than we’ve had in a while, so thanks all you students for your interest. And because of the elevated number of applicants, the board awarded more money than ever: $7,500!
The envelope please.
The 2014 Helen Verba Awards for print journalism:
* Kiki Turner of the University of Colorado at Boulder, $1,500.
* Kara Mason of Colorado State University-Pueblo, $1,500.
* Scott Fromberg of Colorado State University, $1,500.
* Allison Dyer Bluemel of Colorado State University, $1,000.
* Cali Rastrelli of Colorado State University, $500.
* Hunter Goddard of Colorado State University, $500.

2014 Sheldon Peterson Award for broadcast journalism:
* Sasha Klepitskaya of the University of Colorado at Boulder, $1,000.

Here’s what Sasha had to say on FaceBook after being informed of her scholarship: “Today I was awarded a scholarship from the Society of Professional Journalists! It’s such an honor to be believed in by the best in the business, and it sure takes a little load off my pockets. I can’t thank the SPJ enough! Seems like after everything is said and done, I’m right where I need to be. – feeling blessed.”

We wish all the winners much luck in your continued journalistic endeavors.

May Programming update

Colorado will again play a prominent national role in the November elections and where there’s interest, there’s money – a lot of it – with much of it pouring in from outside the state.

Journalism and Women Symposium and the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will co-sponsor a program on elections and campaign finances on Thursday, May 1, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place. The 6:30 p.m. event is free and open to the public.

Join Nancy Waltzman of the Sunlight Foundation, who will show you tools to follow the federal money that flows into the state, and Sandra Fish, an independent journalist, who will offer tips on tracking money at the state level.

The Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 2006 that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency.

JAWS supports the professional empowerment and personal growth of women in journalism and works toward a more accurate portrayal of the whole society.

From the face off between U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to the competitive race between U.S. Sen Mark Udall and U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, to the battle over control of the Colorado Senate, there is much to watchdog. Fortunately, there are resources to help.

At the May 1 program, find out how to use Sunlight’s suite of tools and apps to track the latest campaign finance reports, ad spending, fundraisers and more. Learn to navigate the Secretary of State’s campaign finance system and where else to go for Colorado information (think TV ad contracts, with caveats and cautions on what to look for and what to look out for.