The statewide competition includes daily and weekly newspapers from across the state in the circulation range of 10,000 to 99,000, including the Greeley Tribune, Boulder Daily Camera, Pueblo Chieftain, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Longmont Times-Call and the Boulder Weekly,
This was the first time the 36,000-distribution Independent competed directly with the Colorado Springs Gazette, which has dropped in circulation to around 95,000. The Gazette brought home four awards from the competition-- none of them first place.
The Independent was honored for the following stories:
Reporter Terje Langeland picked up three first place awards. In the News Feature category, Langeland won for "Left Behind," a Sept. 25 piece that chronicled life on the poverty-stricken Pine Ridge Lakota and Rosebud Sioux reservations in South Dakota. Here's what the judges had to say about the piece: "Great job juggling facts and stats with human stories. The writer's straightforward approach shows the seriousness of the topic without trying to manipulate the reader's emotions."
Langeland also took first place in the Political Reporting category for his Nov. 13 cover story, "The Best Council Money Can Buy," which detailed the influence that the development industry exerted over last year's Colorado Springs City Council election. Here's what the judges had to say about the story: "Ouch! I bet the council felt that in the morning. Good work afflicting the comfortable. Terje puts the subject of influence peddling in sharp relief."
In the Business Reporting: Investigative/Enterprise reporting category, Langeland also won first place for "Out of Reach," published Jan. 30, 2003. Langeland's findings, that people of color are often rejected when applying for mortgage loans, earned the judge's praises: "Good job showing the human side of an issue that tends to focus on facts and figures in dry wording. Great job breaking down a complex topic into an easily understood story."
Langeland also received a third place award in the Legal Affairs Reporting category for his April 10 cover story, "Stinging Back," about U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's crackdown on Cuban "spies."
Reporter John Dicker won first place in the Legal Affairs Reporting category for his June 19 story, "Rock-a-bye Baby," a heart-wrenching story over the death of Kevin Patrick Caleum and the resulting court battle that fractured a family. The judges described the piece as "hard to turn away from," a "gripping story [written] with simplicity and style."
Dicker also picked up second place in the Arts and Entertainment Criticism category for film reviews written during 2003.
Reporter Noel Black brought home a first place award in the Arts and Entertainment Reporting category for "Sour Note," his Feb. 4 piece chronicling the demise of the Colorado Springs Symphony. Here's what the judges had to say: "Even non-symphony lovers cannot help but read this story. It expertly puts the problems plaguing the group into perspective."
Black also picked up a second place award in the same category for his delightful cover story about Colorado Springs artist Bill Cummins, "Portrait of the artist as an old man," which was published Dec. 4.
Contributing Editor Kathryn Eastburn brought home a first place award in the Education Reporting category for her Oct. 30 cover story "Dropout Dilemma," an examination of unreported high dropout rates. The judges complimented Eastburn for her "solid reporting. Nice work tying in the national trend with localized response."