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KUNC Receives Two Public Media Journalists Association Awards

colorado_ski_resorts.JPG
Courtesy William Button

The Public Media Journalists Association announced the winners of the 2020 PMJA awards at its Virtual Awards Gala this week, including two stories from the KUNC newsroom. The PMJA awards recognize the best work in public media journalism from across the country.

Revisit the stories below.

Enterprise/Investigative - 2nd Place
The Thousands Of Colorado Ski Injuries That Resorts Don't Tell You About
by Michael de Yoanna

On a Sunday afternoon in February 2019, a 6-year-old girl fell 29 feet from a chairlift at Eldora Mountain Resort and was rushed to the hospital with injuries.

The incident prompted two moms in Boulder to launch an online petition demanding safety improvements. About 1,000 people signed it. Eldora responded, but their claim that such incidents are "extremely rare" did not sit right with the moms.

"It said thank you for your feedback, but we basically stand by our public statement that says we're reviewing all of our policies," said Leigh Fiske, one of the moms. "But the problem with that is we don't know how rare it was because we can't get the data."

Though the girl was attending ski school, the moms claim she wasn't properly loaded into her chair. This led Fiske and others to ask more questions about safety at Eldora, like why small children may ride lifts alone and what's being done to prevent future falls. But the moms said they couldn't even find out how many other similar chairlift incidents there were at the resort.

All of this transpired as KUNC was in the midst of its own two-month investigation into safety at ski resorts, which led to the discovery of little-known data held by the state that documents thousands of ski- and snowboard-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations across Colorado each year.

Read more here →

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Feature - 2nd Place
Transgender Soldier At Fort Carson: 'I Would Love To Stay' by Michael de Yoanna

Capt. Alivia Stehlik
Credit Michael de Yoanna / KUNC
/
KUNC

KUNC Receives Two Public Media Journalists Association Awards
KUNC's Michael de Yoanna reports on the effects of the Trump administration's ban on transgender troops in the military.

When the Pentagon announced in 2016 it would end its ban on transgender troops, allowing them to serve openly, Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik was thrilled.

"It was pretty wild," Stehlik said as a smile flashed across her face. "It was unexpected and here we are."

The announcement was made during the Obama administration by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter. It prompted Stehlik to transition from male to female. She recalled being nervous about rejection by her peers and commanders at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

"I left work on a Friday and then I showed up on Monday with a different name and different pronouns and some makeup because I didn't have long hair at the time and folks were remarkably gracious and lovely and kind and it was wonderful," Stehlik said.

Not long after, on July 26, 2017, President Trump tweeted: The "United States Government will not accept or allow ... Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

Read more here →

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