AURORA | Sentinel Colorado staffers won nine top honors Thursday competing among the state’s best and largest newspapers during the 2020 Colorado Press Association newspaper awards.
Competing against The Denver Post, The Colorado Springs Gazette, The Colorado Sun and a three other daily media, The Sentinel took away the contest’s General Excellence Award for Photography and Design, an award for public service to the community and swept the category for top newspaper editorials.
“Despite having the smallest newsroom among our peers and competitors, The Sentinel steadfastly raises a powerful and illuminating voice that’s critical to maintaining reader trust,” said Sentinel Editor Dave Perry. “I’m inspired every day by the talent, dedication and persistence of some of the top journalists in the state, and we’re endlessly thankful for a community the supports our mission.”
Sentinel Colorado received a first-place award for extensive coverage of community unrest over the death of Elijah McClain. Sentinel staffers offered compelling and comprehensive coverage for months as protests continued among the pandemic.
Sentinel Photographer Philip Poston won first-place honors for top news photography for 2020, a compelling photo of Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson kneeling with Black Lives Matter protesters in front of city hall. He also won top honors for submitting the best portfolio of photojournalism work, offering a gallery of enthralling photos.
Presentation Editor Robert Sausaman won top honors for creating the best cover design for 2020, a moving illustration accompanying a long look at the one-year-anniversary of the death of Elijah McClain.
Sentinel staff writers received second place for an in-depth look at police reform in Aurora. And the newspaper staff was honored with a public service award for investigations, features, columns and editorials focusing on the push for police transparency and accountability.
“I was blown away by the use of multimedia in these reports,” judges said about the dozens of stories, editorials, videos and galleries committed to the project. “The writing was thorough and powerful, and the photography/video added to the depth of the stories.”
Sentinel Editor Dave Perry won both first and second place awards for a variety of editorials focusing on local, regional and national issues, sweeping the category.
Numerous notable journalism efforts from across the state were honored during the annual event.
Jakob Rodgers of the Colorado Springs Gazette bested The Sentinel for first-place public service honors with his compelling exploration into “Where the Homeless Die.”
Denver Post’s David Migoya won first-place investigative honors for a thorough investigation into “Debt and Democracy,” and dismaying explanation of house myriad special districts across the state have saddle homeowners with huge annual property tax bills.
Chalkbeat’s Melanie Asmar was honored for stunning revelations made in “Behind closed doors: When it comes to seclusion and restraint, Colorado schools ‘are investigating themselves.” The story is a long look at how the state stands back from serious accusations of physical abuse of students by educators.
Steamboat Pilot and Today Publisher Editor Lisa Schlichtman and her news staff were honored as 2021 News Leaders for an in-depth exploration of diversity and equity in the rural mountain tourist community. The news staff there continued with a long and difficult project even while Schlichtman suffered the personal loss of her husband in car crash.
The annual award ceremony was held virtually this year because of the pandemic.