CU Journalism & Mass Communication alums claim big national prizes

Two CU journalism alumni have claimed the nation’s most prestigious journalism prizes for their work.

New York Times sportswriter John Branch (Mktng ’89/MJour ‘96) this week was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his precedent-setting multimedia package, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek

TV reporter Marshall Zelinger (Jour ‘02) of Denver’s KMGH-TV recently received the George Foster Peabody Award and several other major prizes for his special investigative series, Investigating the Fire, about last summer’s Lower North Fork fire in the foothills west of  Denver.

And you can add another bunch of award winners to CU’s journalism honor roll: the staff of the Denver Post, including many of the journalism program’s alums, won the Pulitzer for breaking news for coverage of last year’s shootings at an Aurora theater.

Branch’s “Snow Fall” includes a 15,000-word story, videos, photographs and interactive 3D maps and graphics to describe an avalanche that killed three back country skiers in Washington state in 2012. The Pulitzer jury cited Branch for, “his evocative narrative about skiers killed in an avalanche and the science that explains such disasters, a project enhanced by its deft integration of multimedia elements.” Branch is a member of the CU Journalism & Mass Communication advisory board.

Zelinger has spent months telling the story of the North Fork fire and its repercussions. The fire started as a prescribed burn set by the Colorado State Forest Service but spread beyond its boundaries and went out of control. Three people died and 22 homes were destroyed. The legislature passed a law to compensate the victims but that process has been delayed.

Zelinger will receive his Peabody award at a May 20 ceremony in New York. Branch and the Denver Post staff will claim their prizes at Columbia University in New York on May 30.