Pilot & Today editor and staff win News Leader of the Year honor | SteamboatToday.com

Pilot & Today editor and staff win News Leader of the Year honor

Newspaper also earns 7 statewide awards in Better Newspaper Contest

Steamboat Pilot & Today Editor Lisa Schlichtman and her news team won the Colorado Press Association’s 2020 News Leader of the Year award for their multiplatform series, “Indivisible.”

The award was presented by Publisher Logan Molen during a virtual awards celebration Thursday.

“This award is considered the top main award in the competition and was in recognition of the hard and creative work the news team produced on a difficult topic and under very trying circumstances,” Molen said following the award’s announcement.

The six-week Indivisible reporting project, which published from Sept. 23 to Oct. 28, 2020, focused on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and explored the divides that exist in Steamboat Springs and Routt County and the efforts underway to bridge those gaps.

The name of the series is rooted in the knowledge that people feel invisible for a variety of reasons, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, geography and income. By bringing these issues into the light, reporting on them and discussing them openly, the community can discover ways to break down these divides and build a stronger, more “indivisible” society.

“This was a project that generated a lot of discussion amid national conversations and controversies involving politics, race, gender identity and income inequality,” Molen said.

In presenting the award, Molen also acknowledged Schlichtman’s impact as a leader in the newsroom and community.

“I also want to give special recognition to Lisa,” Molen said. “The News Leader award ‘recognizes public service work that reflects compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the community. Recipients will be awarded for outstanding vision, dedication and commitment.’ And that’s Lisa in a nutshell.”

He also noted that Schlichtman’s husband, Mike, died in a plane crash in the middle of the series, and the news team stepped up and made sure the series stayed in motion.

“That measured response from a relatively small and young news team was nothing short of inspirational,” Molen said. “But it wasn’t surprising given Lisa’s skills as a mentor — a master of finding and nurturing talent who grow into more challenging reporting, editing and leadership roles. The team responded because that’s what good journalists do but also because Lisa gave them shared ownership of this important project and inspired them to embrace its larger mission to change our community for the better.”

In accepting the award, Schlichtman thanked the news team for its support and commitment to excellent journalism.

“In a pandemic year, when our lean reporting resources were already stretched thin, the Pilot & Today news team dug deep when it would have been easy to punt,” Schlichtman said. “We worked together and were able to publish another groundbreaking series that sparked important dialogue in the community, brought tough issues to light and gave voice to immigrants and others in our community who often are marginalized. And to me, that’s what the best journalism is all about.”

In addition to the News Leader award, the Pilot & Today also won seven first- and second-place awards in the CPA’s annual Better Newspaper Contest, competing in Class 2, the largest circulation category that included media outlets like The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun and the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Awards included:

• First place, best news story, Kari Dequine Harden, “Taking a stand: STARS volunteers speak out after more than 20 terminated”

• First place, best slideshow or photo essay, John F. Russell, Cowboy Downhill coverage

• First place, best information graphic, Bryce Martin, “Community Snapshot” graphic that was part of the first installment of the “Indivisible” series

• First place, best special section, Katie Berning, Tom Ross and Lisa Schlichtman, “Pilot Proud: Celebrating 135 Years of Routt County Journalism and History”

• Second place, best editorial collaboration, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Summit Daily News, The Aspen Times, The Vail Daily and the Glenwood-Post Independent, “The Longevity Project”

• Second place, best special section, “Yampa Valley Gives”

• Second place, best ad campaign, Jenni DeFouw, Routt County Public Health’s five commitments of containment campaign

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