By Lisa Walton
After winning a slew of awards in the Colorado Press Association�s Better Newspaper Contest, MSU Denver journalism grads are proving they have skills the news industry values.
Evergreen Newspapers, which publishes the Canyon Courier, Clear Creek Courant, the Columbine Courier and the High Timber Times, raked up 30 Colorado Press Association (CPA) awards, with about 70 percent going to MSU Denver alumni who are writers and photojournalists.
More than 1,000 awards were given out in 37 different categories during the CPA�s annual convention at the Westin Denver Downtown hotel on Feb. 21. The competition was open to Colorado newspapers published between Sept. 11, 2011 and Aug. 31, 2012, and included daily and weekly papers in nine circulation classes, from class 1 weeklies with circulations of 1,000 or less to class 9 dailies with circulations of 50,000 or more.
�For our staff, it's the main awards event of the year,� says Evergreen Newspapers editor Doug Bell, who won first place for Best Serious Column Writing in circulation class 4. He has been an affiliate professor at MSU Denver for 22 years and teaches a job readiness course for journalism students.
Bell is also an avid supporter of MSU Denver, and the proof is in the make-up of his staff. Six journalists at Evergreen�s four weeklies are MSU Denver grads, including two recent hires who graduated in 2012.
As Evergreen award-winner and 2011 grad Gabrielle Zastrocky puts it, �Metro people like other Metro people.�
Zastrocky, who designed her own international multimedia news major through the Individualized Degree Program, and Gabriel Christus (�10), staff photographer and photo editor for all four papers, together won the second- and third-place awards for Best Story/Picture Combination in class 2 for stories that ran in the High Timber Times. Zastrocky won two first-place awards and seven total.
Christus, who won five first-place awards and 12 total, shared another third-place award for Best Story/Photo Combination with former MSU Denver journalism chair Deb Hurley Brobst, for a story that ran in the Canyon Courier.
Ian Neligh (�05) won two awards for his work in the Clear Creek Courant�first for Best Investigative Story Package and second for Best Education story in class 2.
For Zastrocky, who is preparing to move to another state, Evergreen Newspapers provided an opportunity to do in-depth reporting as an entry-level journalist. And Bell was happy to have her on staff. He says MSU Denver grads have skills that can be put to use immediately for both web and print. Those skills, he says, are much needed for a small newspaper with limited resources for training.
Zastrocky and Bell say well-prepared students stem from a seasoned staff in the journalism program, including Associate Professor of Journalism Kenn Bisio, who has experience at Time and National Geographic.
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