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Colorado Sun wins 28 awards, including 14 first-place, in Top of the Rockies competition

A letter from the Editor: Thanks, Colorado, for supporting The Sun and allowing us to produce award-winning journalism for you

Colorado Sun staff. Morton L. Margolin Distinguished Lecture, featuring Evan Smith, at the Cable Center, University of Denver, in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The Colorado Sun hauled away 28 awards in the four-state Top of the Rockies journalism contest over the weekend, including 14 first-place wins and the prestigious Public Service Award.

We’re so proud of this recognition from our peers in the Society of Professional Journalists, but we are even more grateful to our Sun community of members for providing the support that makes this kind of quality journalism possible.

(And it’s never too late to join: coloradosun.com/join)

The Sun staff is just 13 full-time journalists (and our amazing freelance friends), but we decided to enter in the large media category and compete against the top news organizations in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Larry Ryckman

We also want to acknowledge the excellent work of our Colorado colleagues who took home awards in the medium-sized and smaller categories, including Colorado Public Radio, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Durango Herald and others. See the full list of results here.

The Sun was honored for some of its major journalism packages over the past year, including two collaborative projects that we put together with colleagues from other news organizations around the state (first place in General Reporting-Series or Package for Parked: Half the American Dream), and students at the University of Colorado Boulder (third place in the same category for Gentrification).

We’re particularly proud of winning first place for Public Service, since that’s what we’re all about. The judges recognized our Capitol Sunlight Project, which explains how the statehouse works, holds the governor accountable with the Polis Promise Tracker and helps citizens be more engaged.

And, by the way, we’re also very proud of Sun reporter Jennifer Brown, who won second place in the Best of the West journalism contest, which considered entries from 14 states. She was recognized for “A Snapchat video of a 13-year-old boy’s suicide roiled a Colorado town — and left police chasing social media ghosts.”

“This story really challenged for top spot because it is the one out of 86 I could not get out of my mind … really good writing and a sad commentary on today’s youth and social media,” the judge wrote.

We’re thrilled by this recognition, but these awards really belong to you, our Sun members. Your support allows us to dig in deep and produce the quality stories that Colorado needs and deserves.

So congratulations — and thanks — to you!

Park City, Utah-based mega e-tailer Backcountry.com is best known for online sales, but it also has a brick and mortar store in the corner of its massive order fulfillment warehouse in Salt Lake City. The Colorado Sun’s Jason Blevins won first place in the Top of the Rockies contest for his coverage of the company’s business practices, which prompted major change at Backcountry.com. (Ed Kosmicki, Special to The Colorado Sun)

First place

  1. Business: Enterprise Reporting Jason Blevins Colorado Sun Backcountry.com sues anyone who uses its namesake. Is it bullying or just business?
  2. General Reporting- Series or Package Jennifer Brown, Kevin Simpson Colorado Sun Parked: Half the American Dream
  3. Feature: Long form Jesse Paul Colorado Sun A slain deputy. A political brawl. A school shooting: How Sheriff Tony Spurlock is handling years of turmoil
  4. Ag and Environment: General Reporting Nancy Lofholm Colorado Sun In the age of go back where you came from, Palisade carries on tradition of thanking orchard workers before they leave
  5. Public Service John Frank, Jesse Paul, Brian Eason, Sandra Fish Colorado Sun Capitol Sunlight Project
  6. General Website Excellence Eric Lubbers, Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun Staff Colorado Sun The Colorado Sun
  7. Politics: Enterprise Reporting John Frank, Jesse Paul, Sandra Fish, John Ingold, Eric Lubbers Colorado Sun Democratic Takeover
  8. Politics: General Reporting John Frank, Brian Eason, Sandra Fish Colorado Sun The 2019 Election
  9. Science and Technology: General Reporting Tamara Chuang Colorado Sun Understanding AI through Holly, the fast-food bot taking breakfast orders at Good Times
  10. Science and Technology: Enterprise Reporting Tamara Chuang Colorado Sun Colorado’s Digital Divide
  11. Health: General Reporting Jennifer Brown Colorado Sun This miracle drug was designed and manufactured for just one person a 9-year-old Boulder girl
  12. Health: Enterprise Reporting Kevin Simpson Colorado Sun His wife was first to use Colorados aid-in-dying law. His advocacy made him an accidental resource for others.
  13. News Reporting- Single Story John Ingold Colorado Sun He survived the Aurora Chuck E. Cheese shooting 25 years ago. A possible death penalty repeal is bringing it all back up.
  14. Features: Short form Joe Purtell Colorado Sun Acres of destruction left by Colorado’s historic avalanche season are also delivering climate change evidence
Runners in the Team Prep distance running camp take a post plunge in the icy waters of Coal Creek as it flows through Totem Park in Crested Butte, Colorado. The Colorado Sun won second place in the Top of the Rockies contest for its story: The fastest kids in America are running hills and chilling in creeks around Crested Butte. (Dean Krakel, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Second place

  1. Business: Enterprise Reporting Tamara Chuang Colorado Sun Electric vehicles
  2. Legal: General Reporting Jesse Paul, John Ingold, Kevin Simpson Colorado Sun Death penalty
  3. Sports: General Reporting Dale Strode Colorado Sun The fastest kids in America are running hills and chilling in creeks around Crested Butte
  4. Features: Short form Jesse Paul Colorado Sun Colorado’s recall fever arrives in Idaho Springs, where leaders fear damage to their towns renaissance
  5. Education: Enterprise Reporting Jennifer Brown, Kevin Simpson, Tamara Chuang, Brian Eason Colorado Sun Four-day School Week
Mt Blanca, home of the Trinchera Blanca Ranch, looms over the Blanca Forestry Products sawmill, which processes 20 million board feet of lumber each year, most of its harvest from the 172,000-acre ranch’s forests. The sawmill was built by the ranch’s conservationist owner, Louis Bacon, to support progressive forestry management work on the property. The Colorado Sun won third place at the Top of the Rockies contest for its coverage of the mill.(John McEvoy, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Third place

  1. General Reporting- Series or Package Kevin Simpson, Shannon Mullane, Moe Clark, Anna Scott, Anna Blanco, Jackson Reed, Will Halbert Colorado Sun Gentrification
  2. Breaking News Story Jennifer Brown, Jesse Paul Colorado Sun STEM School shooting
  3. Ag and Environment: Enterprise Jason Blevins Colorado Sun This Colorado ranch-made-lab is turning beetle-kill trees into lumber in the name of forest health
  4. Science and Technology: General Reporting Michael Booth Colorado Sun Paging Dr. Algorithm: How AI and other new tech are changing care in Colorado hospitals
  5. Health: Enterprise Reporting Jennifer Brown, Sandra Fish Colorado Sun Abortion
  6. A&E and Food: Enterprise Reporting John Frank Colorado Sun Colorado craft beer scene
  7. Education: Enterprise Reporting Christopher Osher, Jennifer Brown Colorado Sun No Colorado school districts meet federal safety standards for behavioral health staffing, investigation shows
  8. Investigative/Enterprise Reporting Christopher Osher, Jennifer Brown Colorado Sun No Colorado school districts meet federal safety standards for behavioral health staffing, investigation shows
  9. News Column Mario Nicolais Colorado Sun Mario Nicolais

Larry Ryckman is Editor of The Colorado Sun.

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