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February 26, 2009 - Journalists Honor Regional Winners

What: SPJ reception and awards ceremony

Where: Denver Newspaper Agency

When: Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time: 6 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $20

Beneficiary: Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Host(s): John Ensslin, SPJ Board of Directors

Honoree(s): Regional award-winning journalists

Speaker: Richard Tofel, author and general manager of ProPublica

Libations: Wine and beer

Catering: Bistro Boys Catering

Music: Natasha Collkett and Michael Galvin

Quote of the evening: “It’s a bittersweet event." John Ensslin

Attendance: 100

Attire: Business to cocktail

Hors D'Oeuvres:: Cheese, nut and fruit crustini, beef and chicken skewers, spring rolls, assorted chocolate


Event Coordinator: Don Knox, Circuit Media

Board of Directors: Noelle Leavitt, Cara Degette, Cynthia Hessin, John Ennslin, Leticia Steffen, Jim Anderson, Don Knox, Bart Nyberg, Paula Pant, Christine McManus, Robert Boczkiewicz, Holly Wolcott, Sara Crocker

Blacktie Photos by: Lisa Perry

 Don Knox (Circuit Media/founding editor of Law Week), left, with keynote speaker Richard Tofel
Don Knox (Circuit Media/founding editor of Law Week), left, with keynote speaker Richard Tofel

Top of the Rockies 2008 Regional Journalism Awards Reception And Ceremony
A group of approximately 100 journalists and supporters gathered in the lobby of the Denver Newspaper Agency on Feb. 26 for a reception and awards ceremony to honor regional winners of the 2008 Top of the Rockies awards. The event was hosted by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In an ironic twist worthy of a Hollywood movie script, the occasion was held at the home base of the Rocky Mountain News on the night its final edition was being produced. Although a statement regarding the newspaper’s termination had been circulated in December, the exact date was announced to the public only that morning--it was the inevitable number-one topic of conversation during a somewhat subdued cocktail hour.
"It’s a bittersweet event," said Colorado SPJ board member John Ensslin. "We’re happy to celebrate journalism, but sad to see it dying with the Rocky Mountain News." One attendee regretfully called the end of the Rocky "the evolution of journalism." Jim Anderson, Colorado news editor for the Associated Press, said the event remained a focus on award-winning journalism. "There’s a definite sadness, but there’s no going back. We’re here to show support and honor those who have done quality work."
After a reception of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and dessert provided by Bistro Boys Catering, the group adjourned to the DNA Auditorium for award presentations. The keynote address was presented by Richard Tofel, general manager of ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom based in New York City that focuses on investigative journalism in the public interest. Tofel, author of four books including "Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism," spoke about the future of electronic journalism to an attentive audience.
The Colorado Pro Chapter of SPJ was founded in 1949, with the majority of meetings held at the Denver Press Club. Its mission is to promote the association of journalists across the state, to further ethics and ideals of the profession, and to advance, develop and formally recognize higher standards of journalism. Members also strive to promote the development of future journalists from the ranks of high school and college students...a representative from the University of Denver who attended the event reported that the school is re-establishing its student chapter with more than 30 members on board.
Although the Denver-based chapter had sponsored an annual awards competition among Colorado journalists for years, this was the first regional SPJ competition under the "Top of the Rockies" title, expanded in 2008 to include neighboring states. More than 800 entries spanning news, features and photography were submitted from professionals in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah--their works were judged by members of SPJ chapters in San Diego, Pittsburgh and Little Rock. For a complete list of winners, visit For more information about the Colorado pro chapter, visit

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