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Editor’s Note: Keeping An Eye On Things

First, the good news. In our business, it’s awards season, and the Greater Park Hill News has been showered with a few citations for excellence that are worth sharing.

Lynn Kalinauskas won First Place in the Education category from the Colorado Press Association for her June 2017 story, “An Issue Of Equity.” There is no way to sugarcoat this critically important topic, and Lynn doesn’t back down. Her reporting highlighted ways that black and brown students are exposed to continued institutional racism within Denver Public Schools. Among some of the conclusions: There will be no equity for black and brown children in DPS until they are served by equally well-trained educators. Here is a judge’s comment on Kalinauskas’s reporting: “Great investigative work and excellent writing skills to communicate the issues to the reader. A great way to raise red flags to readers.”  If you missed it the first time, or want to read it again, the story is online at greaterparkhill.org/2017/05/an-issue-of-equity/

GPHN Art Director Tommy Kubitsky won Second Place for Page 1 Design, also from the Colorado Press Association. Newspapers are not just about stories and photos and advertisements. Also critical is the way that they look and how all the elements flow together. Every month we are grateful to Tommy for making us look our best.

Park Hill photographer Mark Silverstein’s Birdland feature runs on page 3 every month – yes, glance to your right and you will see his little tree sparrow featured for May. Silverstein picked up a Second Place citation from the Colorado Press Association in the Photography Portfolio category. Park Hill is filled with birders (did you know they are also called twitchers?) and Silverstein’s photos continue to be a big hit, with readers as well as judges. One judge’s comment was a bit of a hoot: “Surprised at the variety of birds captured doing a variety of different bird-like things. Well done!”

Finally, yours truly also picked up a First Place award for Headline Writing in the Top of the Rockies, a regional contest that is sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists that includes news organizations from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The whole purpose of a headline is to entice readers to jump into a story, and our entries – all stories that ran last year – ranged from “Guess What’s Brewing?” (about plans for a local microbrewery) to a fallen totem pole (“We Heard The Thump”) to a feature about Park Hill’s venerable Helen Wolcott (“I Just Make Jewelry And Trouble”).

Congrats go out to other news organizations and journalists who were also honored in this year’s state and regional contests. Several other community newspapers, including the Front Porch in Stapleton, the Washington Park Profile, and Life On Capitol Hill, were honored for their work this year.

Now some sobering news. You may have heard, but it’s tough times doing journalism these days. Last year the Pew Research Center reported the number of newspaper reporters and editors in the United States fell by a whopping 37 percent between 2004 and 2015.  Continued downsizing and even newspaper closures continue to take their toll on democracy.

Last month was grim for the Denver Post. Another round of layoffs has slashed the newsroom to 70 reporters. Simply, that means far fewer reporters are serving in the critical role as watchdog to ensure that local institutions and government agencies – including City Hall and DPS – are being properly monitored.

During a speech last month at the Colorado Press Association’s annual conference, Gov. John Hickenlooper made an important and related point. He was talking about the White House especially, and the president’s relentless attacks on the press, with claims of “Fake News.”

“There is a willingness to distrust any news organization,” Hickenlooper said. “And that’s when the powerful oligarchies . . . the individuals who control huge amounts of wealth, it’s when they begin to have an ever greater control over the decisions that are made that affect this country. We accept that at our peril.”

The governor’s observations are applicable to local news, and local government as well. Here at the Greater Park Hill News, we are lucky to have the talent and expertise of so many contributors, who help fill what would otherwise be a void in coverage of our local institutions.  Our contributors also provide the interesting stories about our neighborhood and its characters that can’t be found anywhere else.

There has never been a more critical time to support local journalism, and the advertisers who support our work. Next time you patronize a business that advertises with us, please thank them for doing so.

And thanks to you, our readers, for the opportunity to keep it honest.


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