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.

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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Journalists share tips on publishing at Fireside Chat

By ED OTTE

First-time authors “hope to catch lightning in a bottle” but the formula for success is simple: research, rewriting and networking.

That was the message from two former Rocky Mountain News journalists turned authors at the Nov. 13 Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Fireside Chat at the Denver Press Club.

“Unless your name is Grisham or King, you will face challenges. Many challenges,” said Denny Dressman, who has authored five books, including a 2010 biography of Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson, and edited four others.

“Even Grisham had difficulties breaking in. It wasn’t until ‘The Pelican Brief’ was published and made into a movie that he was successful. After it was a best seller, his publisher asked if he had other manuscripts and he sent them ‘A Time to Kill.’ It had been turned down by other publishers before ‘Pelican Brief’ became popular.

“You hope to catch lightning in a bottle but most beginning writers have to work hard to get published and to sell their books.”

When the News closed in 2009, Mike Madigan had compiled enough historical material to produce “Heroes, Villains, Dames & Disasters/150 Years of Front-Page Stories from the Rocky Mountain News.” The book won the 2010 Colorado Author’s League award for best non-fiction and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Both men are members of the Colorado Author’s League and Madigan cited CAL and other writers’ organizations as vital for budding authors.

“It was what we learned as journalists, networking is so important,” he said. “The mentoring, the advice, the leads. It’s all very helpful.”

Dressman said networking also involves finding a reliable person to edit a manscript. “The reason self-published books aren’t reviewed by the mainstream media is because so many have misspellings and grammatical errors. They needed a good editor.”

When asked about the advantage of e-publishing over printed books, Dressman said it is “for specific genres of fiction – romance, sci-fi, young adult novels – a good way for new authors to get published.”

Both men said research is key to producing a good manuscript.

Madigan’s adventure thriller “Double Dare” is based in southwestern Colorado and the author researched the geography and history of the area “to make the story credible. You have fictional characters but everything else has to be accurate.”

For “Sterling Heroes of World War II,” published in 2012, Dressman researched Allied airbases in Europe and included the information in the book so “younger readers would understand the references made by the people interviewed for the story.”

Rewriting was an ongoing process in Madigan’s novel, which was released in September. “When I started, I thought I had to write the perfect book. I was wrong. I did a lot of rewriting to make the dialogue believable, make it all better.”

SPJ Colo Pro meets with Russian journalists

Anyone who would like to join us, you’d be more than welcome and we’re quite sure the delegation of international journalists would welcome many points of view. This will be in a mixer format, so come visit and enjoy the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm.

The delegation of International Journalists visits Wednesday, November 20th from 6:30-8:00pm. They are a very engaged group and will appreciate warm hospitality and professional insights. This program is sponsored by the U.S. Congress Open World Leadership Program and is administered in part by WorldDenver. The five participants have been selected as emerging leaders throughout Russia for their work as journalists, advancing the public’s access to information.

Meeting Topic: The delegation is looking forward to meeting with the Society of Professional Journalists to talk about various journalism issues and to meet with well-known journalists from across the state of Colorado.

Participants:

Ms. Darya DANILOVA, News Correspondent, Russian Public Television

Dr. Denis DOKUCHAYEV, Director of Media & Information Projects, Seryeznyye Proyekty, LLC

Ms. Alina LVOVA, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Channel 31 News Company

Mr. Pavel POMINOV, Chief Business Development Officer, Omskpress, LLC

Ms. Yuliya SHEVTSOVA, Chief Executive Officer, Vyatsky Nablyudatel Newspaper

Mr. Ilya MICHCHENKO (Facilitator), Deputy Director of Translation and Localisation Centre, “EGO Translation Company”

Escorts: The delegation will be accompanied by Ms. Michelle Woodruff and Mr. Nathan Gallo, representatives of WorldDenver.

 

Nov. Events Coming Soon

Hey SPJers (and friends of),

Here’s some great programming we’ve got coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Using Census Data

Angeles Ortega-Moore of the Partnership & Data Services at the Denver Regional Census Officee, will lead a training session showing journalists how to mine U.S. Census data for story ideas and manipulate it to load your stories with accurate information. The free event will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm.

November Fireside ChatFirechat

The old joke was that every reporter had an unfinished novel in the bottom desk drawer. Now, it is an unfinished manuscript in computer files.
If you’re one of these folks, you will be interested in our next Fireside Chat, Journalist to Author: How to Publish Non-Fiction and Fiction Books, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place.
Former Rocky Mountain News executives Denny Dressman and Mike Madigan will discuss the process and their published works. Admission is free.
Dressman is the author of five books and the editor of four others. In a 43-year newspaper career in Cincinnati, Louisville(KY), Oakland (CA) and Denver, he was an award-winning report and columnist, held the positions of city editor, executive sports editor, managing editor and editor; and for 10 years at the Rocky Mountain News was vice president labor/human resources. He is a member of the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame and a past president of the Colorado Press Association, and teaches writing in the University College Enrichment Program at the University of Denver.
His books include “Gerry Faust – Notre Dame’s Man in Motion” (1981); “Yes, I can! Tackle Diabetes and Win!” (2006); the only full biography of legendary Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson, titled “Eddie Robinson … he was the Martin Luther King of Football (2009); and “Sterling Heroes of World War II” (2012). His latest book is scheduled to be published in 2014.
Madigan is a former award-winning journalist and editor at the News. His first novel, “Double Dare,” was released in September (reviewed Sept. 22 in The Denver Post) by Adventure Publications. His short story The GyPSy Line was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize for outstanding literature. The story is one of 11 published in the anthology “Gem Street” by Irish publisher Labello Press.
Madigan also has authored two books of non-fiction: “Heroes, Villains, Dames & Disasters/150 Years of Front-Page Stories from the Rocky Mountain News” won the 2010 Colorado Author’s League award for best non-fiction and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. He also authored “Historic Photos of Denver in the 50s, 60s and 70s.”