Rocky Mountain Student Media wins 10 awards from Society of Professional Journalists

The Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation received 10 regional Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists this year, including recognition as a finalist for best all-around student newspaper. 

“It’s great to be nationally recognized for what we do, and our dedication and hard work, but what I’m most proud of is seeing how much our team has learned and grown throughout the year,” said Krista McAllister, the executive producer of CTV, Colorado State University’s student-run television station. 

This marks the first year since COVID-19 arrived in 2020 that student media has been able to operate on-campus and in-person at full capacity, without social distancing measures in place. This collaboration has resulted in award-winning coverage of the pandemic’s continuing impact at CSU and in the surrounding community. 

By the same token, students had the opportunity to diversify their reporting outside of covering the pandemic. Katrina Leibee, the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper the Rocky Mountain Collegian, was tasked with turning the 131-year-old publication into an alt-weekly, and helmed special editions covering everything from free speech on campus to craft beer in Fort Collins.

Rocky Mountain Student Media corporation logo

“I had to quickly come up with a vision for what an alt-weekly would look like,” Leibee said. “I took the idea of adding a cannabis section from Westword, and a lot of our design ideas and photo ideas have been inspired by other alt-weeklies, but we still put our own twist on what this format could look like for a student newspaper.” 

The format has given the student photographers on staff an opportunity to shine. Milo Gladstein, a third-year journalism student, received an SPJ award for a photo he took of CSU’s logging team in action. 

“One of the things that draws me to journalism is that I love to always go and look for the deeper story,” he said. “And it doesn’t have to be a big photo piece: smaller assignments can be even more rewarding because we get to highlight people who have devoted their lives to something and are truly passionate about it.” 

Design Managing Editor Devin Cornelius was also recognized by SPJ for his photography covering the Greater Colorado Air Show. An aviation buff himself, Cornelius said he was “just so happy to be there doing something I love.” 

“I felt like that I really did my best work, and I’m so happy it was recognized because I put my heart and soul into every photo I took for the duration of the event,” he added. 

The team at Rocky Mountain Student Media puts their hearts and souls into the work they do every single day. 

“Every single person on our team really cares,” Leibee said. “We do sweat the small stuff, and we’re really invested in serving our community.” 

See the full list of RMSMC awards below. To learn more about joining student media at CSU, go to

Full list of Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation’s Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards

General News Reporting (newspapers):

Finalist: Noelle Mason; “Reflecting on research: A year of COVID-19 at CSU” 

Food/Restaurant Journalism:

Winner: Tri Duong; CTV: “Yum Yum’s Lebanese restaurant is a Fort Collins institution”

Finalist: Hattie Williams and Zeya Highley; “CTV Cooks: Burger battle”

Corbin Gwaltney Award for Best All-Around Student Newspaper:

Finalist: Staff; Rocky Mountain Collegian; CSU 

Breaking News Photography:

Finalist: Grayson Reed; “Contention captured: Preachers on the plaza”

General News Photography:

Winner: Devin Cornelius; “Colorado Air Show”

Feature Photography:

Winner: Tri Duong; “Excited for the show”

Sports Photography:

Winner: Milo Gladstein; “Logging”

Photo Illustration:

Finalist: Skyler Pradhan; “Water bottle”

Broadcast/Online News Videography

Finalist: Natalie Devereaux; “Family-owned businesses struggle with shortages”

Finalist: Kenneth Frederick; “Houska blood drive”

Broadcast/Online Feature Videography

Winner: Robbie Patla; CTV: Collegian Television; “CSU bug zoo”

Finalist: Tom Isaacson; CTV: Collegian Television; “All Sales Vinyl”

Finalist: Ren Wadsworth; CTV: Collegian Television; “Cam the Ram

Other 2021-22 academic year awards

Pinnacle Awards from the College Media Association

  • Best special section for the Transgender Awareness Week edition. This included the story of Kaz Smith, who later inspired an award-winning documentary by Tree Stump Films 
  • Best photo spread for “Hindsight 2020: A Look back the semester in photos” 
  • Best ad supplement/special section for Ram Life 
  • Best House Ad for a campaign for KCSU. 

CMA Video and Audio Festival 

  • Best video feature for Alex Prast’s story on Totally 80s Pizza. 
  • Best video sports package for Sydney Wicker’s story on Athletes in Tandem. 

College Broadcasters Inc. Awards 

  • Best promo: Fourth place, KCSU 
  • Best station imaging: Second place, KCSU 
  • Best feature news reporting: Fourth place, CTV

2021 Reveille Seven College Press Freedom Award 

  • Laura Studley