On Friday, May 16, The Colorado Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists held its annual awards banquet at Denver's Brown Palace, and the Independent walked away with 10 awards for excellence. As part of the Division B category, the Independent competes with numerous papers across the state with circulations of 10,000 to 99,999, most of them dailies, including papers from Boulder, Denver, Loveland and Greeley.
Local daily The Gazette received 5 awards in the Division A competition which includes The Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and Denver's alternative newsweekly Westword.
In the category of Legal Affairs Reporting: News or Feature, the Independent swept the category, taking first, second and third places. Reporter Terje Langeland's story "Railroaded," about the court's new fast-track domestic violence program, was judged as the first-place winner. Judges called it "a well-written analysis of a court innovation that may be doing more harm to the Constitution than it is doing good for victims of domestic violence." Second place also went to Langeland for "Prosecutors or pirates," a story about reforms of civil forfeiture laws, and third place went to reported John Dicker for "Internal Affairs," his story about alleged scandalous behavior by a Colorado Springs police officer.
For Science/Environmental/Agricultural/Medical Reporting: News or Feature, Independent editor Cara DeGette and reporter Terje Langeland shared third-place honors for "Medical Alert," their coverage of last year's leadership crisis at the El Paso County Deptartment of Public Health.
In the category of Business Reporting: Investigative/Enterprise Reporting, Langeland received the second-place award for "Swimming with Sharks," his expos of predatory lenders foreclosing the homes of their indebted clients. For Political Reporting: News or Feature, Langeland was awarded second place for his long profile, "Joel Hefley: Congressman for Life."
For his story on Larry and Dot Heller and the Heller estate, "Celebrating the Hellers," arts and entertainment editor Noel Black received a first-place award in the category Arts and Entertainment Reporting: News or Feature.
Editor DeGette received a second-place award in the Personal Columns category for Public Eye, her weekly inside report on local politics and personalities.
Contributing editor Kathryn Eastburn was awarded second place in Educating Reporting: News or Feature for "The Little School That Could," a follow-up look at Ivywild Elementary School and its innovative switch to kindergarten through 8th grade instruction, a program that provides stability for at-risk students under the superb guidance of teacher Sandy Holland.
The SPJ awards honored work published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2002. All of the Independent's winning stories can be viewed on our Web site at www.csindy.com.