Colorado Independent wins four Top of the Rockies journalism awards

Ron B


The Colorado Independent won four awards for investigative, enterprise and environmental reporting from the Colorado chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists.

The ‘Top of the Rockies’ awards were given for print, online, TV and radio reporting in a variety of categories from news outlets in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

“We’re thrilled about these awards and our staff’s hard work,” says Managing Editor Kyle Harris. “The last year was filled with so many high impact stories, and we’re looking forward to producing even more in 2016.”

In case you missed them the first time around, check out these Top of the Rockies winners from our staff at The Indy:

First place, environmental/enterprise reporting: “What’s the Plan in the State Water Plan?” by The Colorado Independent’s editor, Susan Greene. The story takes a deep look into what was, and more importantly, what wasn’t in Colorado’s statewide water plan.

Judges’ comments: “As Mark Twain reportedly said, whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting — and this may nowhere be more true than in Colorado. An exceptional, thorough report on the problems that keep the state from moving forward with a water plan.”

Third place, environmental/enterprise reporting: “Buying and Drying: Water Lessons from Crowley County” from Colorado Independent reporter Marianne Goodland. The story details how 40 years ago, Crowley County farmers, ranchers and other residents sold off 90 percent of the county’s water to Aurora and Colorado Springs. What Crowley County looks like today is a sad testament to why you shouldn’t “buy and dry.”

First place, investigative/enterprise reporting: the series “What was Done in the Dark” by Susan Greene, with additional reporting by managing editor Kyle Harris and photography from Gregory Hoenig and Robert McGoey. Clarence Moses-EL was sentenced to 48 years in prison for a rape he says he didn’t commit. Greene started following this case nine years ago, and over the past year followed the story as lawyers convinced a judge to vacate Moses-EL’s conviction. The story continues this year as Denver’s District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s office opted to retry the case with key evidence missing. 

Judges’ comments: “When the media does an investigative story right, discovering a problem and pushing through the official resistance and cover up. Keeping the story out there until someone does something. An innocent man is freed; officials are held accountable for their actions. You made us care about this man by bringing in the human touch. How did his incarceration affect his family, his community, his church? Great job.”

Second place, politics/general reporting: “Cynthia Coffman’s Private Meeting Invitation Irks SW Colorado Public Officials” by Susan Greene. In the wake of the Gold King Mine wastewater spill in Durango, Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Coffman, held private meetings with public officials in Durango in apparent violation of the state’s open meetings laws. 

Judges’ comments: “The two strongest entries in the competition for outstanding political reporting involved questionable practices by high state officials in New Mexico and Colorado…The detailed reporting of a dinner invitation by the Colorado attorney general brought a strong response from local officials.”

[Photo Credit: Ron B via Creative Commons on Flickr]

Updated 4/22/16 to include judges’ comments.

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.


  1. Congratulations.

    Those stories also deserve mention for coverage largely missing in other media outlets here in Colorado.

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