Today, the Independent learned senior reporter Pam Zubeck has been awarded a Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on the Waldo Canyon Fire. (Click here for the winning entries.) The entered category, "Public Service Journalism (Non-Daily Publication)," was national in scope and was not limited by a publication's circulation. Other winners included writers from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times.
"Judges selected 84 honorees from nearly 1,700 submissions," reads the SPJ's press release. "Entries included selections from television and radio broadcasts, newspapers, online news outlets and magazines."
Zubeck's reporting was the first to reveal some of the many problems that plagued the city's response, and included gripping on-the-scene details from the firefighters' perspective, like this passage from one of the pieces, "Inside the nightmare":
"We had places where our fire guys were going in with 1-inch fire line [garden hoses], between houses that are 10 feet apart and this one's on fire and this one's not, trying to spray the houses down. Guys pulled the decks off, knocked down the fire on the outside of the windows, and the guys jumped in the house with a garden hose. If the fence was on fire, we'd knock it down. We were knocking stuff down, cutting trees out of the way, dragging them into the street."
Additionally, Zubeck has previously been called "one of the best reporters in the state" by the Colorado bureau chief of the Associated Press, a sentiment echoed today by Indy editor-in-chief Kirk Woundy.
"Pam's work on these stories was nothing short of amazing, especially since she was also responsible for writing other stories, every week, all along the way," he says. "We're thrilled that she's getting some of the recognition she deserves."
The Society of Professional Journalists has been honoring writers since 1932. The winners will be feted at an awards banquet on June 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.