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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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CSU event BY ED OTTE
Students and faculty heard firsthand accounts of efforts to obtain public records information and open closed-door government meetings at a Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine Week forum March 12 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

“The session provided practical advice for student journalists to use as they cover university and government meetings and work with public records,” said Kris Kodrich, associate professor in the Department of Journalism & Technical Communication and adviser to the SPJ student chapter. “It also provided an interesting conversation about how journalists have utilized the law to better serve their readers, viewers and listeners.”

The forum, cosponsored by SPJ’s Colorado Pro Chapter and CSU student chapter, featured First Amendment attorney Chris Beall of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz in Denver, KUNC public radio reporter Grace Hood and Fort Collins Coloradoan executive editor Josh Awtry.

“I thought the panelists did a great job of explaining the law and giving practical examples of how journalists and other members of the public are served by freedom of information laws,” Kodrich said. “The crowd appreciated the expertise and asked interesting questions about some of the challenges journalists and others face when seeking public information.”

The audience included journalism students and faculty and members of the SPJ student chapter.

Sunshine Week, March 10-16, is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

“Sunshine Week isn’t just a time to inform prospective journalists about the laws in place to both protect us and keep the public informed,” Awtry said. “It’s also a great time to recommit and review those same laws ourselves. I learned a lot just from being a part of the panel. The quality of information that was bandied about was riveting.”

The Colorado Pro Chapter sponsors Sunshine Week programs each year. In March 2012, the chapter conducted a Sunshine Week forum at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. The panel for that event included Grand Junction Daily Sentinel managing editor Laurena Mayne Davis, Durango Herald managing editor Don Lindley and a Grand Junction resident who battled city hall over a public records issue.

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