Five days earlier, Westword writers took home three first-place awards from the Colorado Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists -- the only statewide contest in which Westword is allowed to compete against the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, as well as the Colorado Springs Gazette. Alan Prendergast won top honors in the Reader category for his May 25, 2000, "Marked for Death" -- "a riveting tale of life inside prisons," according to the judges. T.R. Witcher took first place in Arts and Entertainment Reporting with "All the World's an Empty Stage," his January 6, 2000, account of the rise and fall of the Eulipions theater group. "A wonderful piece that takes an easily overlooked, but extremely important, story and unfolds it with simplicity, grace, depth and humanity," the judges said. In the same category, Robin Chotzinoff placed second with her February 24, 2000, "Curtains!" Laura Bond took second place in Arts and Entertainment Feature Writing with the November 30, 2000, "Shine On"; Bond also placed third in Arts and Entertainment Criticism, with Michael Roberts taking second place. Westword's final first-place finisher was Harrison Fletcher, whose August 4, 2000, profile of Chubbys, "The Heat Is On," won for Arts and Entertainment Feature Reporting in the food and beverage division. "What makes this story stand out is that it is packed with personality, and not just the personality of the writer," the judges wrote. Chotzinoff also placed second in this category with her December 7, 2000, "The White Stuff."
Other Westword state SPJ awards include a second place for Steve Jackson's four-part "The River" series in the Science, Environmental, Agricultural and Medical category; a third place in Legal Affairs Feature Writing for Chotzinoff's April 20, 2000, "Beat Cops"; and a second in Legal Affairs General Reporting for Prendergast's February 24, 2000, "Unlawful Entry." Prendergast also took second place in Education Reporting with his January 27, 2000, "Lessons From the Third Grade." In Business Reporting, Stuart Steers placed third with his April 27, 2000, "Where the Sidewalk Ends"; Patricia Calhoun took second in Personal Columns; Eric Dexheimer won third for General Reporting, Single Story, with his May 18, 2000, "The Mother Country"; and Alan Prendergast's "Stonewalled," his coverage of Columbine, won third in General Reporting, Series.
Thus far, it's been a busy awards season for Prendergast. "Unlawful Entry." his story on the death of Ismael Mena, was a finalist in the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Writing from the Medill School of Journalism; "Can't Buy a Thrill," his August 17, 2000, look at an Aspen crime spree, won first place in Feature Writing, Long Form, in the Best of the West contest; the same story took first place in Feature Writing in the Maggies: The Magazine Awards of Western Publishing. Prendergast's "Stonewalled" was a Maggies finalist in Public Service, and Westword itself was a finalist in both the City & Metropolitan Magazine and the Consumer Tabloid categories.
A few more winners: Eric Dexheimer's August 3, 2000, "Taking the Bull by the Horns" placed third in columns in the Best of the West contest, and Justin Berton's October 12, 2000, "Mr. Money Machine" was a finalist in the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists.