Newspaper wins 16 awards in statewide contest
The Ouray County Plaindealer won recognition as the top newspaper in its circulation class at a state-wide journalism competition last week, the third time in four years it has achieved the honor.
The newspaper also earned the top “excellence in editorial” award for similarly sized publications and 16 individual category awards as part of the Colorado Press Association contest, which considered work published in the 2022 calendar year and whose results were celebrated Saturday during the association’s annual conference in Denver.
The Plaindealer’s coverage of the Simms Fire, which destroyed a home and scorched more than 300 acres last year after erupting from an out-of-control U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn, stood out. Reporting on the fire earned Plaindealer co-publishers Erin McIntyre and Mike Wiggins and former staff writer Liz Teitz the prestigious Best Public Service Project award, as well as first place in categories for both best series/sustained coverage and best breaking news/deadline reporting. One judge called the work “possibly the best writing I’ve read all year.”
“The determined reporting shows the value of the work of journalists,” judges wrote. “These stories provide a textboook example of the important role journalists play to hold government officials accountable and why reporters should never settle for one answer. Keep asking questions and stories like these happen.”
This year marked the fourth consecutive year the Plaindealer earned the best public service project award.
The Plaindealer also swept both the categories for best series/sustained coverage and for best breaking news/deadline reporting.
Individual category awards included:
• First place business news/feature story by Wiggins for coverage of issues plaguing the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.
“Great lede, well organized, nice details throughout,” judges wrote. “Effectively localizes global issue.”
• First place headline writing by Wiggins.
“Several good plays on words in this top entry,” judges wrote.
• First place for best news photograph for photographs from the Simms Fire, first place for best photography portfolio and second place for best feature photograph for a photo of local typewriter refurbisher Tom Hennessy. McIntyre won all three awards.
• First place classified pages/sections by Wiggins.
“Great use of color to distinguish categories! Font choice is easy to read,” judges wrote. “The whole section screams, ‘take a look and see what you might find.’”
• Second place for breaking news/ deadline reporting by McIntyre and Wiggins for a story about the deaths of three people, including well-known local tour guide Don Fehd, in a Jeep wreck in September 2022.
• Second place for best series or sustained coverage to Teitz for coverage of affordable housing.
• Second place for data journalism reporting by Wiggins for reporting on the increasing dominance of Democrats in Ouray County.
• Second place for best feature story by McIntyre for a profile about Hennessy.
• Second place for best health enterprise/ health feature story by former reporter Kylea Henseler for a story documenting the dearth of trained sexual assault nurse examiners and forensic examiners in Ouray County.
• Second place for best politics reporting for a story by Wiggins about the rise in unaffiliated voters.
• Second place for best newsletter to Teitz for the weekly letter sent to Plaindealer digital subscribers each week.
The Plaindealer competed against newspapers of similar circulation sizes, including the Pagosa Springs Sun, the Crested Butte News, the Holyoke Enterprise, the Sopris Sun, the Rifle Citizen Telegram, the Rio Blanco Herald Times, the Left Hand Valley Courier, the Elbert County News, the Intermountain Jewish News and the Brighton Standard Blade.