KUER News on Thursday won eight first-place awards from the Utah Society of Professional Journalists annual Headliners contest, sweeping the criminal justice and government reporting categories.
Overall, KUER led local radio stations with 15 awards, including other first-place wins in business, education, general feature, military and spot news. Judges ranked the work of local radio journalists across 17 categories.
Whittney Evans, who covers poverty and justice for KUER, took home all three awards in the criminal justice category while grabbing third place for government reporting. Her first-place reporting on Gary DeLand, who ran Utah’s Department of Corrections and now consults nationwide on jail standards, was highlighted by judges.
“Solid, eye-opening reporting on the story about DeLand and the secrecy surrounding jail standards,” the judges wrote. “This kind of reporting can make a huge impact on the community.”
Nicole Nixon shared first place in the government reporting category with KUER’s managing editor Julia Ritchey for their story on sexual harassment within the state Legislature. Ritchey also won second place in the category for her story “When Online Civility Tested, Lawmakers Hit ‘Block’ Button” about legislators blocking users of social media.
“This was a very competitive category,” judges wrote. “Interesting, important stories.”
Nixon, who covers politics for KUER, also won first and third places for business reporting in addition to a top prize for general news with a story about the division over the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing at President Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
“The choir story was well-written and well-mixed, helping provide a fascinating look into the politics (or lack thereof) of the choir's decision,” judges commented.
Other KUER reporters who had work awarded by judges include education and religion reporter Lee Hale, who won two first place awards and an honorable mention and Judy Fahys, who won first place for military reporting. Ritchey took home another first and second for spot news and a profile of a freshman lawmaker.
Other top award winners included the Salt Lake Tribune as best large newspaper of the year. KUED’s Sally Shaum and Nancy Green won best TV documentary for their look at death and homelessness in “Homeless at the End.”