Colorado Politics spj awards

These issues of Colorado Politics were among those honored in the Society of Professional Journalists' four-state Top of the Rockies awards competition Friday, May 3, 2019.

The staff of Colorado Politics won 13 awards Friday, including four first-place honors, in the Society of Professional Journalists' four-state Top of the Rockies awards competition for news excellence.

CoPo staff members won first prize for politics general reporting and breaking news, both for their coverage of Colorado's 2018 midterm election, as well as for legal reporting and news feature writing.

The awards were presented Friday night by the Colorado professional chapter of SPJ at the Denver Press Club.

CoPo competed against daily and weekly newspapers and magazines of up to 10,000 circulation in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. CoPo competed with the Longmont Times-Call, Durango Herald, Columbine Courier, BizWest, Utah Policy, Colorado Springs Business Journal and Albuquerque Business First, among other outlets.

Awards were presented for work during calendar year 2018. There were about 1,200 total entries in the contest.

Last month, CoPo won the Editorial Sweepstakes Award for excellence in news content and the staff won 15 individual awards from the Colorado Press Association.

Here are the Top of the Rockies awards presented to the CoPo staff Friday, along with links to their prize-winning work and judges' comments on first-place winning entries:

First place:

Politics general reporting: To Deputy Managing Editor and lead reporter Joey Bunch; reporters Ernest Luning, Marianne Goodland and Conrad Swanson; Managing Editor Mark Harden; Digital Editor Erin Prater; and Opinion Editor Dan Njegomir, for "A midterm that matters," a 16-story package previewing the 2018 general election. Judge's comments: "Just what voters needed: a comprehensive guide with smart analysis, engaging writing and political news they could use."

Breaking news story: To the same CoPo staffers, for coverage of election night 2018. Judge's comment: "Great analysis on deadline."

Legal reporting: To Goodland and Bunch, for their reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and its legal implications. Judge's comment: "Comprehensive coverage of the meaning of U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of a Colorado baker who refused to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. This package looks at the wide-ranging ramifications of the decision."

News feature: To Goodland, for "What concerns rural Colorado," an account of her 2,000-mile cross-state tour to talk with rural voters about issues in the 2018 election. Judge's comment: "Great effort to capture what really matters to voters."

Second place:

Politics enterprise reporting: To Goodland and Luning, for "Changes ahead under the dome," a multi-story preview of the Colorado General Assembly's 2019 session.

Investigative/enterprise reporting: To Goodland, for "On uncertain course," probing issues involving Colorado's watchdog Independent Ethics Commission.

Health enterprise reporting: To Luning and Bunch, for "Bitter pills," an examination of the differing health policy proposals by 2018 gubernatorial candidates Jared Polis and Walker Stapleton.

Solutions journalism (a new category recognizing reporting on a social or policy problem and how it's being addressed): To Goodland, for "Taking on human trafficking."

News column: To Luning, for "Trail Mix."

Website excellence: To Harden, Prater and staff, for ColoradoPolitics.com.

Marijuana enterprise reporting: To contributor David O. Williams, for "Illegal pot spreads on public lands."

Third place:

General reporting, series or package: To Luning, Bunch, Goodland, Swanson and Njegomir, for "Colorado votes blue," a package of nine articles analyzing the political implications of the 2018 election.

Column, personal/humor: To Bunch, for "Insights."

The staff of The Gazette of Colorado Springs, CoPo's parent newspaper, won six awards in the SPJ competition in a size category including larger news outlets. The Gazette took both first and second place honors for breaking news and first prize for feature photography.

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