Journalists in the Western region of states touching the Rocky Mountains compared their work in an annual contest wherein writers, photographers and artists from the Santa Fe Reporter won 10 awards, the Colorado Pro chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists announced Wednesday.

SFR Senior Correspondent Julia Goldberg earned first place in the SPJ Top of the Rockies in the Science and Technology Features category with her “Model Citizens” cover story. Published on May 6, 2020, it included top scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Information Systems and Modeling Group and the Santa Fe Institute, as well as the doctor who leads the 25-person team modeling the pandemic for the state.

“To combat COVID-19, scientists have come together to provide policymakers models for everything from hospital surges to mortality rates to hidden outbreaks, using a variety of mathematical approaches and data sets, and sometimes drawing differing conclusions. New Mexico’s modeling team has taken a distinctly local approach, relying on local data to monitor the disproportionate impact on the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” the story reads.

Culture Editor Alex De Vore merged his love of gaming and of emerging Native arts into the first-place feature in the Arts and Entertainment and Food category for “How ‘Fortnight’ and ‘Second Life’ Shaped the Future of Indian Market,” a story about virtual reality settings of the world-famous market as it weathered the pandemic. In the same category, judges honored Goldberg again with a third-place award for her cover story “Work of Art,” which featured the Santa Fe Art Institute and its 35-year history of expansion for emerging artists and community-building.

SWAIA’s NDN World uses Second Life architecture to turn Indian Market into an interactive game-like experience.
SWAIA’s NDN World uses Second Life architecture to turn Indian Market into an interactive game-like experience. | Courtesy SWAIA

Contributing Editor Jeff Proctor earned first place in the Sports for his story about how the city’s Marty Sanchez Golf Course offered outdoor playtime during a harsh season and saw a big rebound last summer, “Links for Life.”

Proctor also received top accolades in the Enterprise Reporting category for his stories on COVID-19 in prisons and jails in partnership with New Mexico in Depth.

The Reported podcast, produced by Staff Writer Katherine Lewin, also won first place. Catch some of the most popular episodes, including a two-part series on crime and redemption from a convicted bank robber and a dose of magic. Lewin also earned third place in photography for her spot coverage of the day Santa Fe’s Plaza obelisk came down. The paper’s team also earned third place in the Social Justice Reporting category for coverage of the event, including what led up to it and its aftermath in a cover story by Staff Writer Leah Cantor, Proctor and Lewin.

Art Director Anson Stevens-Bollen’s cover illustration for “A Crack in the Shield” won first place. The story reported on transparency and accountably within the Santa Fe Police Department.

Anson Stevens-Bollen

In the Agriculture category, SFR’s look at the budding hemp industry in New Mexico earned third place with the “Hempire” story by Julie Ann Grimm.

Top of the Rockies has four divisions based on newsroom staff size: small (fewer than five staff members); medium (five to under nine staff members); large (nine to under 15 staff members); and exra large (more than 15 staff members). SFR is in the medium newsroom division. See a spreadsheet of all the winners in the region and the judges comments here.