Free Press wins 9 awards, 6 firsts

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The Four Corners Free Press received nine awards, six of them first-place, in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies regional competition for work done in 2014. The awards were announced May 15 in Denver.

The winners were as follows.

First place:

▪ Headline-writing, Gail Binkly and Rhonda Binkly. The judge’s comment was: “Interesting headlines with catchy phrasing that will make readers want to read the stories.”

▪ Editorials, Gail Binkly and David Long. Three editorials about a controversy involving the Cortez Sanitation District, the Dolores River Valley Plan, and the need for political candidates to speak the truth.

▪ General reporting, series or package – Gail Binkly and David Long, “Strained relations,” a two-part series about carbon-dioxide company Kinder Morgan’s relationship with Montezuma County. “This series is a nice illustration of an obviously tense to the point of ugliness relationship between a county and a company giant that has a variety of implications for all residents and players involved.”

▪ Legal general reporting, Sonja Horoshko, “Racial-discrimination lawsuit still pending,” about a lawsuit involving voting districts in San Juan County, Utah. “Good reporting on a tough issue.”

▪ Arts and entertainment single story, Sonja Horoshko, “Artistic uprising,” about a new Indian Market that arose in Santa Fe, N.M., out of dissatisfaction with the traditional market. “Fascinating look at the inner workings of the Indian Art Market and the changes the artists face during a tough transition. Really clear writing and pace.”

▪ Agriculture reporting, enterprise, Paul Ferrell, “For hemp advocates, green could mean gold.” “An interesting look at the history, uses and issues with the hemp industry along the Western Slope in Colorado. Well researched and an interesting read.”

Second place:

▪ News reporting, single story – Gail Binkly, “Debate still raging over Dolores River Valley Plan.” “The reporter takes the reader into a community to show conflicts that can stymie progress that some seek for their future and the environment.”

Third:

▪ Arts and entertainment single story, Janneli F. Miller, “Shall we dance?” “Fun story.”

▪ Business general reporting, Paul Ferrell. “Red Arrow Mine owner says he’s done no wrong.”

The annual competition includes media outlets from four states: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The Free Press competes in the under-10,000 circulation category. Other newspapers competing in that category included the Colorado Springs Business Journal, Southern Utah Drum, Albuquerque Business, Evergreen Newspapers, Biz West, New Mexico Street Press, Xconomy, and New Mexico In Depth.

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From May 2015.