Day two at the 145th annual Colorado Press Association Convention, held at the Hotel Curtis in Denver, Sept. 23, 2023.
Day two at the 145th annual Colorado Press Association Convention, held at the Hotel Curtis in Denver, on Sept. 23, 2023. Awards for the statewide association's 2022 Better News Media Contest were announced that evening. Credit: Photo by Thomas Cooper/

Aspen Journalism was recognized with four awards — three of which were first-place honors — in the Colorado Press Association’s 2022 Better News Media Contest.

The awards, announced on Sept. 23 at the 145th annual CPA Convention in Denver, honored work by Aspen Journalism staff members Heather Sackett and Laurine Lasalle, as well as freelance journalists Sarah Tory and Hector Salas.

They include a first-place honor for Best Editorial Collaboration for a two-part series by AJ Data Editor Laurine Lassalle and Caroline Llanes of Aspen Public Radio, which in both print and broadcast stories looked at varying COVID-19 outcomes and attitudes across six Western Slope counties.

Salas’ first-place feature in Best Social Justice or Equity Reporting was the result of the writer embedding with a “cluster” of freelance housekeepers that stays nimble to provide for its workers despite hardship.

Tory’s work covering the tension between a proposed methane-capture project’s local impacts and global climate benefits won first place for Best Environmental Story. Sackett’s enterprise coverage of how agricultural interests often overtake environmental concerns in stream management planning won second place in the Best Agriculture Story category. See links to each story at the bottom of this post.

Aspen Journalism won four awards in the 2022 Better News Media Contest, which were announced at the Colorado Press Association’s annual convention in Denver on Sept. 23, 2023. Credit: Aspen Journalism staff

The contest was judged by the New York Press Association and featured eight classes based on circulation size and publishing schedules.

Aspen Journalism competed in circulation class two, which includes daily publications with 121-250 stories per month, opting to move up a category when in the 2021 contest Aspen Journalism was in class one, for dailies with less than 120 original stories per month. Other publications in our category in 2022 were Ark Valley Voice, Longmont Times-Call,  Loveland Reporter-Herald, The Pueblo Chieftain, Sentinel Colorado, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Summit Daily News, The Aspen Times, The Denver Gazette, The Durango Herald, The Greeley Tribune and the Vail Daily.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers for doing good work,” Aspen Journalism Editor and Executive Director Curtis Wackerle said. “We are grateful to all of our supporters for making this nonprofit, in-depth and investigative model possible. These awards are another data point showing that the model is working.”

In April, Aspen Journalism was recognized with six awards in the four-state Top of the Rockies awards contest from the Society of Professional Journalists.

FIRST PLACE: BESt environmental story