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.

2021 Top of the Rockies Contest to Close Feb. 1

The 2021 Top of the Rockies contest, administered for more than a decade by the SPJ Colorado Professional Chapter on behalf of SPJ chapters in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming, will officially open on Dec. 17.

The contest, which encourages journalists, editors and photographers to submit their best work, will be open through 10 p.m. Feb. 1.

For the first time, Top of the Rockies has four divisions based on newsroom staff size: fewer than five staff members; five to under nine staff members; nine to under 15 staff members; more than 15 staff members. News organization 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.

For a full list of contest rules, and categories, visit coloradospj.wordpress.com/contest/.

Awards will be announced April 30 at the awards ceremony at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place, Denver — or online if an awards ceremony is not possible.

For additional questions, contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb.hurley.brobst@gmail.com.

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.”

Gender equity panel to present at Auraria

Jan. 30 — Colorado Press Women will start the new year with a program on “Exploring gender equity for professional women in journalism and mass communications in Colorado.” We are using this gathering to launch a conversation about how far women have come in our members’ professions, how far we have to go, and how we can “lean in” to level the playing field for women journalists and communications professionals.

The panel discussion on gender equity features Tiffani Lennon, author of research on gender equity and a book Recognizing Women’s Leadership; Patti Dennis, longtime news director of 9News who is now vice president/regional news director and director of recruiting for TEGNA Media (formerly called Gannett Broadcasting); and Meghan Lyden, senior editor for photography and multimedia at The Denver Post.

The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 30, at the CCD Confluence Building on the Auraria Campus. In addition to campus parking lots, the location is well-served by RTD’s Light Rail – the Colfax at Auraria and Auraria West stations for lines W,C,D,E,F,H. See Light Rail map for the line nearest you. The CCD Confluence Building is near Colfax.

Registration fees of $5 for communications students, $10 for CPW members, and $15 for guests will include coffee, tea and pastries. Register online through PayPal. http://coloradopresswomen.org/events.shtml

The irascible Trumbo

This is one in a series of interviews with Colorado journalists.

By Ed Otte

“It’s always enjoyable to talk about the irascible Trumbo,” Laurena Mayne Davis said.

Irascible. Academy Award winner. Controversial. National Book Award winner. Blacklisted screenwriter. Free speech champion.

All of these adjectives describe the author and more people are talking about him now with the November release of “Trumbo” starring Bryan Cranston. The film received critical praise and not just because it features the Emmy-winning “Breaking Bad” actor.

“Trumbo” is about one of the Hollywood Ten who was convicted of contempt of Congress after he refused in 1947 to reveal to the House Un-American Activities Committee the names of people alleged to have American Communist Party influence in the movie industry.

Blacklisted during the 1950s, Dalton Trumbo won Academy Awards under pen names for “Roman Holiday” (1953) and “The Brave One” (1956). Those were just two in a long – and impressive – list of screenplays he wrote from 1936-1973.

Trumbo first earned national attention when he won the 1939 National Book Award for “Johnny Got His Gun,” an anti-war novel about a young American soldier in World War 1.

The writer gained local attention in Western Colorado with the 1935 publication of his first novel, “Shale City.” Born in 1905 in Montrose, Trumbo grew up in Grand Junction. He attended the University of Colorado-Boulder in the 1920s and in 1993 CU dedicated a campus fountain court to him in recognition of his free-speech celebrity status.

Laurena Mayne Davis
Laurena Mayne Davis

The portrayal of Grand Junction residents in “Shale City” sparked a hostile reaction. And that’s why Davis, former managing editor of The Daily Sentinel, is involved in the Trumbo story. Today, she is an instructor at Colorado Mesa University teaching Media Theory, Writing and Reporting for Media, and Mass Media: Impact and History.

Question: In your 2007 book “125 People/125 Years: Grand Junction’s Story” you wrote: “(Trumbo) is the city’s most accomplished artistic export by far, but the supportive warmth from his hometown chilled with his 1935 publication of ‘Eclipse,’ a novel in the vein of social satire that angered townspeople who recognized, or thought they recognized, themselves in it.” How long did their animosity last?

Davis: Decades, I’ve heard, although those with long-term grudges likely were a vociferous few. Additional hometown animosity later was heaped on Trumbo during the Cold War, due to his affiliation with communism. For people predisposed to not like him following “Eclipse,” that was a one-two punch. For many people — in Grand Junction and elsewhere — during that period of hyper-nationalism, the Hollywood 10 were not viewed as defenders of the First Amendment, but as traitors.

Question: You also state in your book that Trumbo wrote for The Daily Sentinel while he was a student at Grand Junction High School. Were you able to find any of his stories in the newspaper’s archives?

Davis: My students have found them. In 2005 I taught a class titled “Dalton Trumbo’s Legacy” at Mesa State College, now Colorado Mesa University. We read four books, watched 10 of Trumbo’s films, did a read-through of his play “The Biggest Thief in Town” and went on a tour of significant sites, including his boyhood home. Students also had to complete a final project. For that project, some students pored over microfilm of The Daily Sentinel during Trumbo’s tenure as a cub reporter and printed off everything with his byline. It was standard beginner fare: high school news, service club meeting reports, etc., but it’s fascinating to read that early boilerplate and realize the same writer went on to win a National Book Award and two Academy Awards.

Question: When “Eclipse” was reprinted in 2005, it included a “Who’s Who in Shale City” list of the book’s characters with their real-life inspirations. What was the community reaction to the list?

Davis: The old-timers got out their own lists and compared them! There was a lot of overlap. It fostered some good-natured discussion.

Question: In October 2007 a bronze antique bathtub with the naked 62-year-old Trumbo was installed in front of the Avalon Theatre in downtown Grand Junction. The downtown has many impressive sculptures but why was the bathtub — from an old black-and-white photo of the writer — selected?

Davis: Trumbo was an outsized personality. A traditional bust hardly would have been appropriate. The photo, which shows Trumbo writing in his bathtub, was taken by his daughter Mitzi. Trumbo family members were consulted to make sure they would not be offended by a whimsical selection. They loved it. Legends Committee members, who first united for the Trumbo statue, have gone on to raise money for the installation of eight more bronzes of historical figures. All include storytelling elements. The Trumbo statue is a draw for impromptu seasonal decorating, whether it’s a Broncos beanie or a Santa hat. During the local special showing of the biopic “Trumbo,” the statue had a top hat.

Trumbo was wearing a top hat in honor of the screening.
Trumbo was wearing a top hat in honor of the screening. Photo by Dean Humphrey/The Daily Sentinel

Question: What was the public reaction to the sculpture?

Davis: Probably divided along the same lines of those who either admire or dislike Trumbo and what he stood for. Some appreciate the humor; some don’t. One thing’s for sure, though, even if people don’t know Trumbo from history, they know about “the guy in the bathtub downtown.” It’s a conversation-starter.

Question: In earlier interviews you said you included Trumbo in your Colorado Mesa University class discussions. What were the discussions? Do you do that now in your classes?

Davis: I always teach a section on Trumbo in my Mass 110 gen-ed course, “Mass Media: Impact and History.” Because Trumbo was a journalist, author, playwright, screenwriter and member of the Hollywood 10, we can cite his career as a touchstone in many areas of mass media. Every semester, students are struck by the fact that someone so famous came from western Colorado. I recently solicited student comments about Trumbo. Jayde wrote: “To learn about someone who had such a huge impact in the development of the nation and helped to recognize the rights given by the First Amendment is inspiring. To learn that they were born in my hometown and grew up in the place that I went to seek higher education gives me hope that I might be able to amount to something great, even if I grew up in a town off the radar to most of the country.”

Question: With free speech being unfiltered today in social media, do students appreciate Trumbo’s defiance and courage in the 1940s?

Davis: We watch the 2007 documentary “Trumbo,” which is a reading by multiple actors of Trumbo’s personal letters — some belligerent, some hilarious and some heartbreaking. Students do gain an understanding of the principled stand he and others took and the personal losses they suffered. From the same group of solicited student comments, Sarah wrote: “I wish I had lived at the time of the Hollywood 10, just to follow what was happening. He is very inspiring for never giving in to the pressures upon him.”

Question: Have you seen the Bryan Cranston movie? What do you think the community reaction will be to the film?

Davis: Members of the Legends Committee arranged for a special showing of the biopic “Trumbo” at the Avalon Theatre, on Nov. 13. It sold out. Trumbo’s daughter-in-law, Nancy Escher, spoke before the movie, as did a handful of people from the Legends Committee. As if witnessing a live performance, the audience clapped when the film was over. It really was a special, and perhaps a redemptive, moment. Larry Ceplair, who earlier this year published a fantastic new biography, was there to sign copies of “Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical.” Trumbo’s son, Christopher, had planned to write the book, but he died from cancer before he could. He knew and liked Ceplair from his previous books and handed over his notes and family memorabilia to him. It’s amazingly well-researched. Anyone curious about Trumbo will learn much about him from Ceplair’s book.