Westword writers and editors took home fourteen writing awards at the Colorado Society of Professional Journalists banquet last week at the Brown Palace Hotel.
The newspaper received three top prizes in the competition, in which Westword competes against the state's largest dailies. Staff writer Steve Jackson won in business features for his story on Colorado's beleaguered carnation industry; music editor Michael Roberts took first in arts and entertainment features for a profile of rocker turned insurance agent "Hardrock" Gunter; and staff writer Robin Chotzinoff won in food and beverage writing for an ode to pie lovers.
Second place in general reporting went to managing editor Andy Van De Voorde for a story detailing the high-flying travel habits of Denver International Airport officials. Art critic Michael Paglia took second in arts and entertainment criticism for an article chronicling the destruction of an I.M. Pei-designed building by real estate developer Fred Kummer.
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"The Insiders," Westword's series about the state prison system, was the third-place winner in series writing. The same series, written by staff writers Alan Prendergast and Karen Bowers, took first place last month in the Maggie Awards. Sponsored by the Western Publications Association, that contest covers work from magazines and tabloid newspapers in 24 states.
Staff writers Stuart Steers and Eric Dexheimer each received two third-place awards from the SPJ. Steers won for business stories on the Colorado Convention Center and a local developer's murder; Dexheimer was honored in environmental categories for stories about bear hunters and cloud seeding.
Music editor Roberts received two third-place prizes, one for an interview with Kiss singer Gene Simmons, the other for a jazz-album review. Music writer Marty Jones took third for his story on a weekly bluegrass jam held at an Englewood cabinet shop, and restaurant critic Kyle Wagner won third-place honors in food and beverage writing for a review of Brook's Steak House.
The Rocky Mountain News received 21 newspaper writing awards; the Denver Post had twelve; the Gazette of Colorado Springs had nine.