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Tribune captures top honors in annual Utah SPJ contest

Published June 22, 2013 2:00 pm
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The Salt Lake Tribune won more than 60 awards in the annual Society of Professional Journalists Utah Headliners Awards, including best newspaper and three of the contest's top honors.

The Tribune won nearly twice as many awards as any other news organization in its category in the contest, which honored the best Utah journalism in 2012 across all mediums.

Reporter/editor Nate Carlisle won Utah SPJ's Roy B. Gibson Freedom of Information Award for his ongoing efforts to keep government records open and available to the public.

The Don Baker Investigative Reporting Award went to The Tribune reporting team of Tony Semerad, Vince Horiuchi, Steven Oberbeck, Pamela Manson, Cathy McKitrick and Cimaron Neugebauer for the eight-part package "UTOPIA: Fiber Optic Nirvana or Nightmare With No Way Out."

Reporter Robert Gehrke won the Quintus C. Wilson Ethics Award for his efforts to explain and help correct faulty polling results provided by a pollster The Tribune hired to do elections polling.

Utah SPJ's other top honors went to longtime Utah State University professor Ted Pease, winner of the Clifford P. Cheney Service to Journalism Award; and SLUG Magazine editor Angela Brown, winner of the Josephine Zimmerman Pioneer in Journalism Award.

Utah SPJ also each year honors non-journalists for their efforts to ensure open access to government records.

Recipients of the organization's Sunshine Award for 2012 are Betsy Ross, a longtime member of the Utah State Records Committee, and Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank.

Ross served on the records committee from its inception nearly 20 years ago until the end of 2012. She first was its legal counsel and then a committee member, eventually serving three terms as the committee's chairwoman.

"During that time, Ross was an advocate for public access to government records and for openness and transparency in government," according to the Utah SPJ.

Burbank earned the award for making available to the media and the public a police dispatch call log that had not been pre-screened.

"In an era when reporters frequently hear 'no' to requests for public information, it is quite refreshing to hear not only a resounding 'yes,' but let's make it easy to access and open to everyone," the Utah SPJ said.

The Utah Transit Authority earned Utah SPJ's annual Black Hole Award given to entities or individuals that create barriers to the free flow of information.

The nomination for the award cited a dispute between UTA and KSL-TV and the Deseret News over the release of retirement compensation information about longtime executive John Inglish.




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