Competing against media outlets in four states, the Four Corners Free Press picked up seven awards in the 2022 Colorado Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies contest.
The winners were announced April 9 at the Denver Press Club.
The Free Press earned four first-place awards, one second, and two thirds.
Editor Gail Binkly took first place in the Education: News category for a package of articles on conflicts and controversies in Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1.
She also took first in Editorials for a set of three pieces.
Zach Hively snared a first-place award in the Column: Personal/Humor category for his three entries, and Mark Stevens took first place in Arts & Entertainment & Food Criticism for three book reviews. Carolyn Dunmire, who has won an award in the same category every year for the past five years, placed third for three of her “Four Corners Foodie” columns.
Janneli F. Miller took second in Business Enterprise Reporting for her article “Migration time?” about booming real-estate sales in Montezuma County.
And Austin Cope placed third in Feature: Long Form for his article “Montezuma and Cortez: Why are they so called?”
The judges did not give specific comments on every entry. They did say of Hively’s columns: “Nice trio of pieces detailing COVID woes and the would-be athlete.”
About Binkly’s editorials, the judge wrote, “I liked the voice in these editorials. They were easy to read, engaging and pulled no punches. It is great to see a newspaper take strong stances in its community, Particularly when those stances are likely to be unpopular with many residents.”
Top of the Rockies is a regional, multi-platform contest for reporters and news organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. It is administered by Colorado SPJ; judges are from outside the four-state region.
In this most recent contest, 75 media outlets and a dozen freelancers competed, submitting more than 1,500 entries, an increase of 15 percent over last year, according to the SPJ website. Media outlets of all types – print, broadcast, or online – compete against each other, but they are divided into four size categories.
The Free Press competes in the category for outlets with the smallest newsrooms. At least 21 other media outlets competed in the same category, including the Denver Voice, Ouray Plaindealer, Colorado Springs Business Journal, Green River Star, KVNF Public Radio, Source New Mexico, KSFR Public Radio Santa Fe, and Gastronomic Salt Lake City.