Daily Times brings home 14 awards in Top of the Rockies multi-state journalism competition

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Daily Times staff took home 14 awards April 9 in the Top of the Rockies journalism contest sponsored by the Colorado Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The awards, in news and feature writing, sports writing, photography, editorial writing and page design during 2021, "are a testament to how hard our reporters work to cover local news despite pandemic restrictions and the small size of our staff," Editor John R. Moses said.

Contest organizers said in the contest announcement that "75 media outlets plus a dozen freelancers from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico entered this year's contest, submitting 1,507 entries, an increase of 15% over the 2021 contest." The Daily Times competed in the Medium Newsrooms category.

The contest was a real home run for Daily Times sports writer Steve Bortstein, who won five of those awards, three for sports news and feature coverage, one for a sports column and one second place for Spot News Photography for his image of firefighters and volunteers participating in the annual 9/11 memorial stair climb at Ricketts Park.

Steve Bortstein won second place in Spot News Photography for this photo of local and area firefighters, as well as several hundred volunteers, who took part in the annual 9/11 stair climb at Ricketts Park. The event raised more than $50,000 which goes to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Bortstein won first place in Sports News coverage for his article about the new issues facing athletic directors, coaches and student athletes across the state as they traveled, often long distances, to high school sports games while navigating changing COVID-19 policies and higher fuel costs.

Daily Times wins 11 awards in NMPA Better Newspaper Contest

Bortstein took third place in the same Sports News category for a story on the Enid Majors baseball team winning their first series title in the Connie Mack World Series tournament last year.

He won second place in Sports Columns for his analysis about how athletes of all ages and skill levels may face mental health challenges – and the need for communication to address those issues and reverse any stigmas associated with getting help.

He rounded out his wins with a third place win in the Sports Feature category for a story about Piedra Vista High School student Jackson Harpole’s successes at Aztec Speedway.

The first place Spot News Photography win went to Daily Times reporter Noel Lyn Smith for her photo of two sisters participating in a Memorial Day flag refolding ceremony in Shiprock last year. The judge's comment was, "Impactful!"

This image of Peggy Phillips, left, comforting her sister, Velma James, after receiving their father's refolded flag on May 31, 2021 at Shiprock Veterans Memorial Cemetery won first place for Spot News Photography for Daily Times reporter Noel Lyn Smith in the 2022 Top of the Rockies multi-state journalism competition.

Reporter Mike Easterling also collected several awards, one a second place win shared with former staffer Hannah Grover for General Reporting, Series or Package for a multi-part series on San Juan County's economic and social recovery about a year after the start of the pandemic. The series was called San Juan Rebuilds.

Easterling also won third place in Features: Long Form for a feature on the scientists who discovered the fossilized skull of a Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus at the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in 2017, and a third place in Arts & Entertainment for "'Mama Mia' opens month-long run at Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater."

Farmington Daily Times wins awards for page design, overall quality

Former Daily Times reporter Josh Kellogg earned a second place award for Beat Reporting for his coverage of our crime and social services news. 

Kellogg also took second place for Breaking News Story for his coverage of a man arrested after throwing a Molotov cocktail at police.

Editor John R. Moses won a second place award in Editorials for an editorial about public document destruction carried out by a state agency and the need for an attorney general's investigation.

Moses also won a second place in Business News for coverage of a cooling tower collapse at the San Juan Generating Station, and the response by state regulators to being kept in the dark for a while about the structural failure.

Finally, the Gannett Design Studio took home a second place award for the graphic design of a Sports page.

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at for questions about this story.

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