An aerialist floats high over the crowd
As part of Foothills Art Center’s annual weeklong festival, a group of aerialists, acrobats and jugglers performed July 13 at The Golden Mill. This photo by Golden Transcript reporter Corinne Westeman was part of a first-place photo gallery in the Colorado Press Association's annual contest. Credit: Corinne Westeman / Colorado Community Media

Colorado Community Media, a digital and print news operation with 23 newspapers along the Front Range, won 29 awards during the annual Colorado Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

In the awards presentation at Denver’s Curtis Hotel on Sept. 23, CCM won awards in editorial, advertising and special sections across its regions in the north, east, west and south.

The CCM team won 19 first-place honors altogether, and the Editorial “sweepstakes” award in its classification among similar-sized newsrooms across the state.

In her third year as publisher of CCM, Linda Shapley said: “Our journalists work hard to make sure they are doing right by their communities, holding officials accountable and telling the stories of their neighbors. These awards serve as a little bit of proof that we are doing that job, and we’ll continue to do what’s best for our communities.”

group photo in front of awards
Members of the Colorado Community Media staff attended the 2023 Colorado Press Association Better Newspaper Contest awards ceremony on Sept. 23 at the Curtis Hotel in Denver. Credit: Linda Shapley / Colorado Community Media

The CCM team had several first-place honors in the South Metro region, which includes coverage areas in Douglas and Arapahoe counties, and the East Metro region, which includes Parker and Elbert County.

In equity reporting, Centennial reporter Tayler Shaw took first place for her article on the African Diaspora Advisory Collective, while Nina Joss nabbed second with her story about the groups fighting hate crimes.

Shaw also won a second-place award for breaking news in her coverage of a police shooting in Lone Tree last year.

Senior Reporter Ellis Arnold nabbed first-place honors in the political writing category for his work on the death threats that city and county clerks faced following the 2020 presidential election.

Former reporter Robert Tann had teamed up with South Metro reporter McKenna Harford to win first place for their work on showing the impacts of fentanyl deaths in the region. Tann, who now works for the Summit Daily News, also won first place for an article about reaction to proposals for free community college.

Former CCM reporter Elliott Wenzler, who now works for the Colorado Sun, won a first-place award for her coverage of water issues facing the Castle Rock community.

South Metro editor Thelma Grimes took second place in health enterprise reporting for her series looking into the pressure to succeed on today’s students. She collaborated with two students in Castle View High School on the series.

The Highlands Ranch Herald also received top honors for website design.

The South Metro team was honored with the Editorial Excellence award, which is based on a cumulative total of awards in the annual contest counted in the “sweepstakes.”

In Elbert County coverage, Chancy Gatlin-Anderson took first place for her news story that provided a comprehensive look at the life of an election ballot.

In the West Metro region, which includes coverage areas in Arvada, Golden, Evergreen, other areas of Jefferson County and Clear Creek County, several reporters had a big night.

Arvada reporter Rylee Dunn won three awards, including two first-place honors for her coverage of the local reaction from Planned Parenthood staff and patients to the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v Wade and on the group whose claims ended up being a talking point in the Colorado gubernatorial race.

Dunn took second place in feature writing for her coverage of local mothers teaming up to combat the baby formula shortage.   

Former reporter Olivia Love, who now works for CityCast Denver, also received top honors in sustained coverage for her work on the fatal police shooting of Christian Glass, which made national headlines.

Love also placed first in business/feature writing on the sale of the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk hot dog stand in Bailey.

In a team project, Love took second place along with Golden reporter Corinne Westeman for their continued coverage of the process to rename Mount Evans, which recently became Mount Blue Sky.

Westeman took first place for a photo slide show of aerialists performing at the Foothills Arts Center festival, and in breaking news for her coverage of Empire’s water service.

Former reporter Andrew Fraieli, who now works with the Colorado News Collaborative, took home three first-place awards for best news story for his reporting on Lakewood’s city council receiving email threats. Fraieli also won in health reporting for an in-depth article on Clear Creek County’s mental health services, and in editorial writing for his commentary on Lakewood’s 40West ArtLine.

CCM digital editor Deborah Grigsby won first place for headline writing with, “Men’s quilting exhibit anything but square.”

Rounding out the slew of first-place awards from the west team, columnist Andrea Doray won for Best Serious Column Writing for her piece, “Reflections on empathy, compassion and the courage to act.”

Hanging on for life. The rider must jump away from the bull to avoid getting trampled.
Hanging on for life. The rider must jump away from the bull to avoid getting trampled. This image was part of a winning photo slideshow by reporter Belen Ward. Credit: Belen Ward / Colorado Community Media

In the North Metro region, which includes coverage in Adams and Weld counties, Belen Ward and Luke Zarzecki won a total of three awards.

Ward took second place for a photo slide show at a Professional Bull Riders event in Adams County. Former CCM reporter Zarzecki, who now works for Inside Health Policy in Washington, won two second-place awards. One was for environmental news about keeping a lush lawn amid drought conditions, and the other was for public safety reporting and looking at the roots of motor vehicle thefts.

CCM swept the special sections category, winning first and second place for the company’s annual health and wellness guide and spring home and garden section. The sections combine editorial, advertising and design. Advertising director Erin Addenbrooke, Grimes, the south metro editor, and designer Ben Wiebesiek managed the award-winning sections.

In advertising, Tina Meltzer took first place for best digital ad.

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