The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists annual banquet Thursday, June 26 was particularly meaningful in light of the fact that two of the area's major news outlets, The Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune are involved in an acrimonious dispute over their joint operating agreement.
However, outgoing SPJ Chapter President and KSL Newsradio Director Sheryl Worsley made it clear that while the organizations' management are waging battle, the writers and editors in the trenches have nothing but respect for each other. She emphasized that reporters know that competition makes them better journalists.
According to Worsley, the annual SPJ contest to recognize excellence in local newspaper, magazine, radio and television reporting drew more than 700 entries.
The Park Record earned 11 awards for a variety of news, sports and editorial work in its circulation category.
Park Record City Editor Jay Hamburger was recognized in the spot news and continuing coverage categories. He earned a second place award for the article "On historic day, gay couples wed" which was written after Utah's ban on same sex marriage was overturned and couples dashed to the Summit County Courthouse where the clerk was one of few in the state offering marriage licenses to same sex couples.
In the sports department Adam Spencer won two first-place awards, one for deadline reporting of Park City High School's winning baseball season, and the other for a profile about a young local motocross athlete. His poignant feature about a Park City hockey player who had lost his father also impressed the judges.
A newcomer to the competition and one of the only student entrants, Park Record Intern Sara Tabin, won a first place trophy for an education feature about her schools China exchange program, entitled "Friendship across the Pacific."
Park Record Editor Nan Chalat-Noaker earned a first place award in Review and Criticism for an article about the Sundance film "Blood Brother" and a second place award in the Business reporting category for an article about Black Diamond owner Peter Metcalf's take on the the future of the outdoor industry.
The Park Record also swept the Editorial category winning first, second and third places. The winning editorials written by Chalat-Noaker focused on the PCMR/Talisker dispute, the state legislature's dismal environmental policies and the importance of participating in local politics.
The Utah SPJ chapter also bestowed five prestigious special awards to especially derving journalists and outlets.
Carole Mikita of KSL television earned the Clifford P. Cheney Service to Journalism for a long career that specialized in reporting on religion. Mikita recently retired.
Tim Fitzpatrick of The Salt Lake Tribune earned The Roy B. Gibson Freedom of Information Award for his ongoing efforts to preserve the public's access to government records.
Tom Harvey and Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune were honored for their work helping to unravel the controversy between the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News regarding the joint operating agreement and its potentially devastating effect on the Tribune.
Gehrke and Tony Semerand of the Tribune received the Quintus C. Wilson Ethics Award (and a round of applause) for their investigation into the Utah Attorney General's office which led to the resignation of John Swallow.
And, the Josephine Zimmerman Pioneer in Journalism award went to Catalyst Magazine and was accepted by its cofounder and owner Greta Belanger deJong. It was noted that the free monthly publication which focused on environmental and new-age issues was the first of its kind in Utah.