Every year, The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recognizes a select number of journalists for our Honors awards. These individuals stand out in our profession for contributions in a variety of areas from investigative reporting to public service and mentorship.
Please join us at our awards banquet on Thursday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. to join in celebrating the contributions of our Honors winners. Click here to buy tickets now.
Lifetime Achievement Award
During his long career at The Salt Lake Tribune, Paul Rolly wrote or co-wrote thousands of columns, sharing entertaining stories and insightful analysis of all kinds of subjects, with politics being his specialty. No matter what the topic, Paul always insisted on transparency from public officials and institutions and was never afraid to speak truth to power. He used the column to seek justice, shine a light on abuses and fight for those with no voice. In his later years with the paper, Paul headed a mentoring program that provided young reporters with one-on-one feedback and career advice, which had become increasingly scarce in a time-strapped newsroom environment. Through this program, he became a mentor to the sexual assault reporting team that would go on to win The Tribune a Pulitzer Prize in 2017. Paul’s time at the newspaper ended in May 2018 after more than four decades there. He had planned to continue working but with layoffs looming, he decided to retire early in the hope of saving the job of another newsroom staffer.
Josephine Zimmerman Pioneer in Journalism Award
In her nearly four decades telling Utah stories, the name Lois Collins has made for herself reaches much further than her byline. The journalists who nominated her to be recognized by the Utah Headliners (an organization she has championed and held membership in for years) heralded her compassion, mentorship, and concern for everyone she works with, including colleagues outside her own newsroom. It is for the quiet path she has unflinchingly paved for others — particularly women and those journalists who might not look or sound or believe as the majority around them — that we recognize Lois as a pioneer in the industry. In their most painful personal trials, in the mountains they climb advancing their work, in victories and defeats great and small, and now in the clutches of a worldwide pandemic, Lois has personally ensured Utah journalists were seen and supported, all while she dedicated herself to a career defined by shining light on untold stories through profound research and powerful prose.
Public Service, Troubled Teen Industry reporting
Jessica covers legal affairs and criminal justice for The Tribune, where she has worked since 2011. She was part of the team that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. In 2020 her thorough reporting on Utah’s lucrative and loosely regulated “troubled teen industry” helped push the legislature to enact historic new regulations against the industry.
Salt Lake Tribune Staff, “Pandemic Response”
Don Baker Investigative Reporting Award
Reporters Erin Alberty, Nate Carlisle and Bethany Rodgers pored over hundreds of public records from technical contracts to e-mails in untangling the web of lucrative no-bid contracts awarded at the tumultuous outset of the pandemic. It was an in-depth investigation happening in real time in which the reporters quickly revealed how contracts went to benefit companies with little public health experience or that were financially distressed at the time they cashed in on the state’s largesse. The rigorous reporting led to changes in the state’s pandemic response from requiring TestUtah to change labs to pushing for the placement of new limits on no-bid contracts.
Adam Herbets, FOX 13m “FOX 13 Investigates: Salt Lake City School District”
Roy B. Gibson Freedom of Information Award
Adam joined FOX 13 in March 2019 and helped launch the FOX 13 Investigates team in 2020. He focuses on large-scale investigations that increase transparency and accountability in Utah. His role at the station is to identify and investigate impactful stories that provide essential journalism to the community. Adam has won an Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative journalism and an Emmy Award for investigative journalism. He has also won two Golden Mike Awards and has been nominated for twelve Emmy Awards in total.
In 2020 Herbets presented the text messages between Salt Lake City School District board members that showed the petty side of education politics. But more than that he used the reporting to also highlight how the board subverted open meetings laws that resulted in apologies from the board and with members agreeing to participate in additional training on open meetings and public records laws.
Clifford P. Cheney Service to Journalism Award
Dr. Sheree Josephson has taught journalism and other communication classes at Weber State University for more than 28 years. In 2018, she was named a Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor, Weber State’s most prestigious recognition. Josephson just stepped down as chair of WSU’s Department of Communication after nine years and is on sabbatical leave for a year. She completed a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1992 after working in daily print journalism for more than 15 years with two stints each at three daily newspapers: the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah; The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah; and the Colorado Springs Sun in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At Weber State, she was founding adviser to the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. During her years as the faculty adviser of The Signpost, the student newspaper at WSU, her students won first place in the national SPJ contest for News Reporting, Editorial Writing, and Breaking News. She was instrumental in helping WSU students gain access to the student fee committee meetings, the results of a fraudulent student body election, police records, and faculty salaries and evaluations.