CFOIC wins SPJ’s ‘Top of the Rockies’ First Amendment and blogging awards

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Colorado chapter honored Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, with its 2015 First Amendment award Thursday evening.

Roberts also won a first-place award for blogging in SPJ’s four-state “Top of the Rockies” contest, which honors journalists in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

“This was a first rate series of stories about the status of Colorado’s openness laws,” the judges wrote. “There is a county that won’t automatically show the real estate assessment of officials. These pieces were a public service.”

SPJ_FirstAmendment2016Media lawyer Tom Kelley, a CFOIC board member who served for 17 years as the coalition’s president, presented the First Amendment award to Roberts at a Denver Press Club event.

The winning blog articles included a June 2015 story which revealed that elected officials in Elbert County were hiding their real estate property assessments from the public.

A second story detailed a former school board president’s five-month battle to obtain salary records from her school district. The third article showed how some cities continue to use secret ballots to fill council vacancies despite a 2012 Sunshine Law amendment banning that practice.

Also honored by SPJ: Laura Frank, president of news for Rocky Mountain PBS, who received the “Keeper of the Flame” award; Denver Post reporter Jordan Steffen, who was named “Journalist of the Year”; and Richard Joyce of Colorado State University-Pueblo and Kris Kodrich of CSU-Fort Collins, who each were named “Journalism Educator of the Year.”

A complete list of “Top of the Rockies” winners is on SPJ Colorado’s website.

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