Bridge, immigration, arts center coverage win press awards for PI | PostIndependent.com

Bridge, immigration, arts center coverage win press awards for PI

Staff report

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent and its sister weekly, the (Rifle) Citizen Telegram, won several awards at the Colorado Press Association convention in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

The combined efforts of the PI staff was awarded first place in the Class 7 Dailies category for Best Deadline News Reporting, for coverage of the Grand Avenue Bridge construction closure on Aug. 14, 2017, which began a three-month detour.

"Great coverage," the judges wrote. "The updates and tips for drivers dealing with the detour were useful to readers, and having reactions from some readers was a great addition."

Also for coverage of the bridge closure, PI reporter (now editor) John Stroud took second place for Best Sustained Coverage. "This issue affected motorists and tourists, and no angle went uncovered," the judges wrote.

In addition, the PI staff took second place in the Public Service category for its Immigration Impact series last year.

"Excellent job showing the impact of this issue on your community's residents, and illustrating through your interviews how immigrants have shaped your community," the judges wrote.

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Former reporter Ryan Summerlin took second place for Best Investigative Story Package, for an expose about brewing financial troubles at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts that led to the city severing ties with the organization and misdemeanor theft charges against the former director.

Summerlin's story involved synthesizing information from various emails obtained through an open records request and other sources. "He makes it look easy, but, as any journalist can tell you, this type of reporting is quite difficult to do well," the judges wrote.

An awards also went to photographer Chelsea Self, second place in Best Photo Essay, for her story and photo package on rodeo clown Tyler Williams.

And former PI editor Randy Essex also took second place in editorial writing for opinion pieces taking the Silt Police Department to task for a lack of transparency in the firing of former chief Levy Burris, and questioning the historical society tax proposal last fall for not having a clear spending plan.

The Citizen Telegram came home with two first-place awards in the Class 1 Weeklies category. Editor and reporter Alex Zorn and Essex together won for Best Sustained Coverage and Best Investigative Story Package for work to uncover a lack of transparency in the Silt Police Department over Burris' firing.

"Some papers would have reported on the story and turned a blind eye to the overriding issue," the judges wrote. "We need more enterprising reporters who aren't afraid to push hard to get the facts for their readers on important issues."

Essex's Silt police editorial also appeared in the Citizen Telegram as part of the story package.