High Country News writers win Top of the Rockies awards

For immediate release: April 30, 2014

The Society of Professional Journalists' Colorado chapter awarded four High Country News writers with Top of the Rockies awards on April 25.

High Country News writers received four first place awards and one third place award for work in the news outlet's print magazine and website.

Contributing editor Cally Carswell received first place in the Science: General Reporting category for her story "The Tree Coroners" about the scientists working to understand how trees die in order to save the West's forests, and first place in the Agriculture: General Reporting category for her story "Farming on the Fringe," which examined how farmers in San Luis Valley, Colo., are coping with water scarcity by agreeing to tax those who deplete groundwater.

"I was thrilled that my High Country News colleagues and I were among the talented bunch of Western journalists recognized by SPJ," said Carswell. "I'm equally thrilled that the kind of in-depth journalism we do -- and so believe in -- is still valued by our peers around the region."

Senior editor Jonathan Thompson received a first place award in the Blog category for his work on the web-exclusive stories on the HCN website. About his work, judges wrote, "Jonathan concluded one post in this collection with a promise to keep readers informed. It's clear he delivers on that time and time again. His posts are timely, tricked out with links and charts and, in a word, informative."

HCN correspondent Sarah Jane Keller received a first place award in the Environment: General Reporting category for her story "A groundwater legacy on the rocks" about how New Mexico's strict groundwater protection rules are being weakened by shifting political forces.

Greg Hanscom, former HCN editor and current contributor, won third place in the Politics: General Reporting category for his story "Red Rock Resolution" about Utah Representative Rob Bishop's attempts to end Utah's decades-long battle over unprotected federal lands.

For more than 40 years, High Country News has reported the stories of the American West that are often overlooked by larger media outlets. The nonprofit news organization has won many awards over its years, including the Utne Media Award, the George Polk award, the Science in Society Award, the Native American Journalists Association Best Environmental Story, the Society of Environmental Journalists Award, and others.

For more information about High Country News, contact Gretchen King, HCN audience engagement coordinator, at 970-527-4898 x14 or [email protected].