NMPolitics.net editor and publisher Heath Haussamen won a first-place award for commentary writing in the multi-state Top of the Rockies contest on Friday.
“Heath’s concern for his community is evident yet he doesn’t sugarcoat the real problems it faces,” a contest judge wrote. “And he links national perspective to local angles seamlessly. His conversational tone invites a reader to stick around awhile.”
NMPolitics.net was also recognized for the strength of its website.
Haussamen won the first-place news column award for three commentaries he wrote in 2016:
Police officers have a damn hard job: After participating in a law enforcement use-of-force training, Haussamen wrote about the complexities of shootings involving police officers.
“Killings of cops and by cops are too often sparked by our society’s deeper problems,” he wrote. “… Let’s work more tenaciously and collaboratively to combat the problems that plague our society. We owe it to our police officers, and to the people they encounter while doing their jobs.”
Grieving, then moving into action after Victoria’s death: When 10-year-old Victoria Martens was killed in Albuquerque, Haussamen shared what he had learned from covering seven child-abuse deaths in Doña Ana County over three years. “I’ve shaken my fist at the sky and screamed. I’ve wept. When I read Brianna’s autopsy report, I vomited,” he wrote. “And I’ve fantasized about homicide.”
Haussamen asked New Mexicans to commit to honest self-reflection about the state of our society. “It starts by grieving, and continues by acting,” he wrote. “We can create a better society. Our children need us to make the choice to do that.”
My commitment in Donald Trump’s America: Haussamen wrote about growing up in Santa Fe in the 1990s, when voters elected a mayoral candidate who fanned the flames of economic tension and racial anxiety. He related that experience to Trump becoming president.
“I’m processing how to move forward as a human being and a journalist,” Haussamen wrote. “I know I must keep telling stories and facilitating discussions that help us understand each other.”
Haussamen competed against journalists from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming in a category that included newspapers with a print circulation of 10,000-29,999 and several online-only media outlets. Journalists from the Colorado Independent won second and third place for news columns in that category.
NMPolitics.net’s website also won second place for general excellence in the category that included newspapers with a print circulation of 10,000-29,999 and online-only news organizations.
The annual Top of the Rockies competition is sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists’ Colorado chapter. The awards were announced Friday at an event in Denver.