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Indy earns five firsts in state competition

Writers for the Colorado Springs Independent took first place in five categories and amassed 12 honors overall in Colorado's Society of Professional Journalists latest Excellence in Journalism competition, which recognized work from the 2006 calendar year. The Indy competed in a division for daily and weekly newspapers of 10,000 to 75,000 circulation.

Michael de Yoanna led the way, with two first places and a second place. Other first-places included one for Cara DeGette, a shared award for Matthew Schniper and Kathryn Eastburn, and one for former reporter Dan Wilcock.

In investigative reporting, de Yoanna won for his "Mind Game" story on post-traumatic stress disorder, published April 13, 2006. In written comments, judges called his work "intriguing, well-reported and well-written." Second place in that category went to the Indy's Cate Terwilliger, for "Right cross," a story on Christianity's political divisions, published Sept. 7.

The other victory for de Yoanna came in political reporting for "Under the influence," a March 16 story on lobbyists in state government. The judges called it an "interesting and informative look at the legal practice of lobbyists plying Colorado lawmakers with gifts."

DeGette took first in education reporting for "Artless," a May 25 story about District 11 censorship in student art competition. The judges described it as having "great quote selection," and "nice fluidity," and being "an interesting, thoughtful read."

Schniper and Eastburn shared first place in arts and entertainment writing for their work in the Fall Arts Guide, from Aug. 31. Schniper provided the cover story, "Blow up or sit down," about a local breakdancing crew, and Eastburn profiled curator Jason Zacharias.

Wilcock, who left the Indy for Japan in 2006, won first in legal affairs reporting for his cover story, "Rx for confusion," on Jan. 19.

Other awards for the Independent:

De Yoanna took second place in science, environmental, agricultural and medical reporting for his Aug. 10 story, "Targeting paradise," about the Army's possible Pion Canyon expansion.

Naomi Zeveloff placed third in the same division for her Oct. 12 cover story, "Hung out to dry," on the lack of water at the Rancho Colorado development in southern El Paso County.

DeGette placed second in the "A reader" class for "Mikey's mission," a profile of Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder and Air Force Academy alum Mikey Weinstein, on March 2. She also came in third in political reporting for "Stampede," a story on the Congressional District 5 race, published July 27.

Eastburn was second in arts and entertainment criticism for her work on "Appetite" food reviews.

Former Indy writer and columnist John Hazlehurst took a third for "Sparked!" a March 9 story about a Sangre de Cristo Arts Center exhibit. Hazlehurst, in subsequent work for the Colorado Springs Business Journal, placed second in investigative/enterprise reporting and third in columns in the under-10,000 circulation group.

All stories published in the Independent are available online at

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