WATERVILLE — Colby College has named former Denver Post editorial page editor Chuck Plunkett as its 2018 Lovejoy Award recipient for courageous journalism.

Plunkett led an editorial board that penned an editorial earlier this year criticizing the owners of its own paper in the wake of newsroom layoffs. He eventually resigned as editorial page editor and continues to be a vocal defender of local journalism in the face of newspaper buyouts and downsizing.

“The Lovejoy Award aims to recognize journalists who uphold the principles of a free press in trying times,” said Colby President David A. Greene. “Chuck Plunkett has fought to keep the distinctive voice and essential coverage of local papers, long a source of critical exchange in local communities.”

The Lovejoy Award is named for Colby graduate Elijah Parish Lovejoy, who attended the school in the 1820s when it was still Waterville College. A newspaper editor and abolitionist, Lovejoy was killed in 1837 for his anti-slavery editorials.

Colby has recognized courage in journalism with the Lovejoy award since 1952. Last year’s recipient was Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Alec MacGillis of ProPublica.

Plunkett and the editorial board’s sharp critique of Denver Post owner Alden Global Capital, made this April within the Post’s editorial section, denounced staff cuts and urged ownership to view the publication “as a necessary public institution vital to the very maintenance of our grand democratic experiment.”


“I welcome the chance to give more oxygen to those advocating for local coverage of issues that matter to communities, and am humbled and overwhelmed to be honored in the name of Elijah Parish Lovejoy — an editor who gave his life for press freedom,” Plunkett said in a press release this week. “Our newspapers are being shattered by forces of profit at the terrible and dangerous expense of eroding quality journalism and free speech in communities across the country.”

Plunkett has been a journalist for over 20 years, including roles at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He started at the Denver Post in 2003, becoming politics editor and then editorial page editor. He is now the director of CU News Corps, a program at the University of Colorado Boulder.

He will receive the award, along with an honorary degree from the college, at a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 8, in the school’s Lorimer Chapel. He will also provide remarks.

Past Lovejoy winners include Bob Woodward, James Risen, Bill Kovach, David Broder, Katharine Graham and Carl T. Rowan.

Matt Junker — 861-9253


Twitter: @mattjunker

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