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.

SPJ job and internship fair turns out “impressive talent”

Thirty-five students from six schools participated in the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter college student internship and job fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club. The event was for underclassmen seeking summer internships and for May graduates interviewing for jobs.
Thirty-five students from six schools participated in the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter college student internship and job fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club. The event was for underclassmen seeking summer internships and for May graduates interviewing for jobs.

Thirty-five students from six schools participated in the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter’s college student internship and job fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club. The SPJ Colorado Pro board sponsored the event so underclassmen could interview for summer internships and May graduates could interview for entry-level jobs.

“Some very impressive talent, and a terrific turnout from the students,” Evergreen Newspapers editor Doug Bell said. “These events not only provide our imminent graduates a chance to practice their interviewing skills but also are a networking bonanza.”

Greeley Tribune editor Randy Bangert, right, interviews Mike Tolbert of Metropolitan State University-Denver at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.
Greeley Tribune editor Randy Bangert, right, interviews Mike Tolbert of Metropolitan State University-Denver at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.

The session was scheduled for 1-4 p.m. and ran 30 minutes longer because many of the print, broadcast and digital students interviewed with three or four of the news organization representatives.

The fair was open and free to students, and they were encouraged to bring their resumes, clips and portfolios.

According to Bell, “The editors on hand to do the interviewing were clearly impressed, and came away with a valuable collection of resumes.”

Loveland Reporter-Herald managing editor and Prairie Mountain Media representative Jeff Stahl, left, interviews Ashley Dumas of the University of Central Florida at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.
Loveland Reporter-Herald managing editor and Prairie Mountain Media representative Jeff Stahla, left, interviews Ashley Dumas of the University of Central Florida at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.

Janis Carrasquel Hernandez, a Metropolitan State University-Denver fall 2015 journalism graduate, said, “I enjoyed the job fair greatly. It was an occasion to meet face-to-face with Colorado’s prospective media employers and learn about what they are looking for.

“It was also a good professional networking event where I talked with colleagues about their projects and exchanged job hunting tips and knowledge.”

Mile High Sports web editor Michael Jaycox, far left, interviews a student at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19, at the Denver Press Club.
Mile High Sports web editor Michael Jaycox, far left, interviews a student at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19, at the Denver Press Club.

Denver Post internship recruiter Alexandra Alsonso also noted the students’ appreciation for the interiew experience.

“I’m so glad that that a few of the students felt like they left the fair with helpful information,” she said. “I was very happy to meet such a diverse group made up of attendees who were well-prepared, had great questions, and who were receptive to feedback and suggestions when talking about their next step.”

Mile High Sports web editor Michael Jaycox appreciated the students’ enthusiasm in pursuing journalism careers.

Denver Post internship recruiter Alexandra Alonso, left, interviews Rachael Worthington of Colorado State University at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.
Denver Post internship recruiter Alexandra Alonso, left, interviews Rachael Worthington of Colorado State University at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.

“This was my first time representing Mile High Sports at a job fair, and I couldn’t have been more impressed,” he said. “The students and applicants were not only qualified and prepared, but engaging to speak with. What I was most impressed with, though, was their excitement to know more about the industry and different possible pathways towards a journalism career.

“Even if Mile High Sports wasn’t the perfect fit for an individual applicant, we were able to discuss their future in other ways, and I feel both sides came away with something useful.”

Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting president Laura Frank, left, interviews Jeffrey Will of Metropolitan State University-Denver at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.
Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting president Laura Frank, left, interviews Jeffrey Will of Metropolitan State University-Denver at the SPJ College Student Internship and Job Fair on Feb. 19 at the Denver Press Club.

Colorado SPJ partnered with the Colorado Press Associaton in visits to college journalism programs last fall, and the visitation team members emphasized the importance of internships. The Feb. 19 program was the first internship/job fair hosted by Colorado SPJ because the chapter board believed spring semester was a good time to reconnect with students.

“Thanks to SPJ for putting on one of the best internship/job fairs I’ve seen,” Greeley Tribune editor Randy Bangert said. “I came away with a stack of more than a dozen resumes from passionate, enthusiastic and talented journalists that I’d like to have in our newsroom at some point. It’s great to see so many young journalists who are eager to develop their skills and experience real-world journalism.”

SPJ hosts Journalism Meet and Greet Social

Investigative freelancer April Nowicki, left, Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez and Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Adrian Garcia at the journalism meet and greet on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The event was hosted by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Investigative freelancer April Nowicki, left, Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez and Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Adrian Garcia at the journalism meet and greet on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The event was hosted by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Representatives of state and national journalism associations talked about their organizations at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The Colorado Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sponsored the event to encourage networking among the groups and for people to become familiar with the organizations.
Representatives of state and national journalism associations talked about their organizations at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The Colorado Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted the event to encourage networking among the groups and for people to become familiar with the organizations.

9News KUSA executive producer Nicole Vap answers a question about the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club, The event was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
9News KUSA executive producer Nicole Vap answers a question about the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club, The event was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Aurora Public Schools communications specialist Julius Vaughns, vice president of affiliated professionals and treasurer of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists, explains his organization's activities at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The event was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Aurora Public Schools communications specialist Julius Vaughns, vice president of affiliated professionals and treasurer of the Colorado Association of Black Journalists, explains his organization’s activities at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The event was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Colorado Press Women president Sandy Nance, right, explains her organization's goals at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The event was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Colorado Press Women president Sandy Nance, right, explains her organization’s goals at the journalism meet and greet social on Oct. 16 at the Denver Press Club. The event was sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Join us for a discussion about freedom of information

Freedom of information laws will be discussed by three experts at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place.

Sponsored by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the program is a part of the organization’s Sunshine Week project. The event is free and open to the public.

Sunshine Week, March 15-21, is the annual 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.

The project is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Gridiron Club and Foundation. National coordinators are the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

More information is available at www.sunshineweek.org.

The Feb. 25  speakers:

  • Keli Rabon is an investigative reporter for 7News. She was the lead reporter for KMGH’s ongoing series “Contrary to the Public Interest” about problems with Colorado’s open records laws. The series received the SPJ Colorado chapter’s First Amendment award in April 2014.
  • Jeff Roberts, a former Denver Post reporter, is executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.
  • First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg of Levine, Sullivan Koch and Schulz, is the CFOIC president.

Metered street parking is available in front of and near the Press Club on Glenarm Place. The meters accept credit cards. Parking is also available in a public lot on the southwest side of the Press Club.

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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