SPJ recognizes excellence in journalism
The 2023 Top of the Rockies journalism contest awards were announced at a reception Saturday, April 22 at The Slate Denver, the venue is located in the former Emily Griffith Opportunity School in downtown Denver. The Southern Ute Drum news team earned a total of twelve awards at this year’s recognition ceremony.
Graphic Specialist, Robert L. Ortiz took home a total of six awards, including a First, Second and Third-Place sweep in the Single Page Design category. Ortiz also earned Second and Third-Place wins for Feature Page Design. He also earned a Second-Place award in writing for his article titled, “Behavioral Health now has space for growth” in the Mental Health Feature category.
Media Archivist, Fabian Martinez also took home a Second-Place win in Spot News Photography for coverage of this year’s royalty pageant titled, “Royalty crowned and ready for Tribal Fair.”
Reporter/Photographer, Divine Windy Boy earned her first two journalism awards this year — bringing home a Second-Place win in Sports Photography for her coverage of the Gathering of Nations Powwow and a Third-Place in the Information Graphic category for her “Southern Ute Tipi Camp” poster design.
Editor/Media Manger, Jeremy Wade Shockley took home a total of three awards in photojournalism — including a First-Place win in Spot News photography for his coverage of last year’s Bear Dance Fire on the Reservation. Followed by a Second-Place win in News Photography for his feature titled, “National Native American Veterans Memorial dedication brings tribes together in Washington, D.C.” and another Second-Place in Feature Photography for his coverage of the Southern Ute Bear Dance.
In conjunction with the awards reception, SPJ hosted a panel discussion on the topic of diversity in the newsroom titled — Amplify: How local news organizations can work toward making sure the voices of marginalized community members are heard and represented. The panel was also held Saturday, April 22 at the historic Denver Press Club.
Top of the Rockies is a regional, multi-platform contest for reporters and news organizations in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming. The 2023 contest had more than 1,750 entries from more than 100 news media outlets and freelancers, a 12% increase over the number of entries in 2022. The entries were judged by journalists in Illinois and Ohio.
“We are pleased to see so many news media outlets competing in Top of the Rockies,” said Deb Hurley Brobst, the contest’s coordinator. “We are seeing top-notch journalism from journalists throughout the region, no matter what the staff size.”
The Southern Ute Drum has been an active member of the Society of Professional Journalist (SPJ) for over ten years, in addition to long standing affiliations with the Colorado Press Association (CPA) and the Native American Journalist Association (NAJA).