Morey Publishing‘s Long Island Press brought home 16 awards at the New York Press Association (NYPA)’s 2014 Better Newspaper Contest held at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs March 27 and 28.
The annual awards competition, spring convention and trade show recognizes journalistic excellence across newspapers and media outlets throughout New York State. It has been held each year since 1930. The Press has swept NYPA twice in the past four years, dominating its 2010 and 2012 contests, earning top prizes in nearly every category and bringing home the competition’s highest honor, the prestigious Stuart C. Dorman Award for editorial excellence. It ranked Second Overall in last year’s contest.
The 2014 contest included 3,081 entries submitted by 177 newspapers vying for accolades across 64 categories, including editorial, design, photography and advertising, in addition to Newspaper of the Year, the Dorman award, John J. Evans Award for advertising excellence and Sharon R. Fulmer Award for Community Leadership. Entries were judged by members of the Iowa Press Association.
Despite publishing only three print issues last year, the Press came in Third Overall for Single-Flag Newspapers, earning top honors across more than a dozen categories. These included: coverage of the arts, local government, in-depth reporting, news, feature story, news or feature series, sports feature, best front page, home page, user experience, use of social media, online advertising/marketing campaign, special sections/niche publications, special section – advertising and advertising campaign.
Press Senior Editor Spencer Rumsey, Staff Writer Jaime Franchi and Editor in Chief Christopher Twarowski brought home First Place in the Coverage of the Arts category for a multi-story entry that included: Rumsey’s colorful portraits of local arts institutions and exhibits—“Rhythm & Roots: Nassau’s African American Museum Brings History to Life,” “‘Women Of The World’ Unite To Capture ‘Feminine Mystique’ In Varying Shades Of Color And Form” and “Flower Power Blooms At Nassau Museum’s ‘Garden Party’ Show;” Franchi’s vibrant and informative “Standardized: New Documentary Takes Testing Battle To Big Screen,” chronicling the anti-Common Core movement’s transition to cinema as a medium of revolt against the controversial education reform; and she and Twarowski’s kaleidoscopic “LI’s Guitar God Joe Satriani Talks Strange Beautiful Music,” a personal, revealing glimpse inside the local six-string extraterrestrial’s artistry and life.
“There’s some great variety here,” gushed judges, “but whether they’re about a musician, a gallery showing or a documentary, the stories have a lot in common—clever language (‘unrivaled fretboard wizardry’), colorful descriptions and imagery, great quotes.
“I particularly enjoyed the scene painted at the beginning of ‘Standardized,’” one continued, “and that story’s description at the end of bright green shoelaces changing hands and BATs [Badass Teachers Association] taking off into the night. These entries have clever ledes, interesting photos and a good mixture of information and fun.”
Twarowski and Multimedia Reporter Rashed Mian took First Place honors in the Best News or Feature Series category for their four-part investigative probe into the ongoing plight of Ronald Bower, a Queens father of two who spent more than 23 years in prison for heinous sex crimes an ever-growing number of law enforcement officials believe he did not commit.
The series—“Ronald Bower Granted Parole After 23 Years; ‘Highly Unlikely’ Committed Sex Crimes, Says AG’s Office,” “Schellhammer Abruptly Out As Attorney General’s Conviction Review Bureau Chief,” “Exclusive: Ronald Bower, Released On Parole After 23 Years, Maintains His Innocence” and “Exclusive: Our Long Ride Home With Ronald Bower, A Convicted Sex Offender Who Many Believe Is Innocent”—also included a nearly eight-minute video titled “Ronald Bower Reunites With Family After 23 Years In Prison,” documenting Bower’s release from Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate Dannemora, just south of the Canadian border.
“Amazingly in-depth investigative work into a fascinating case—I cannot imagine the time you put into these pieces,” remarked judges. “I congratulate the reporters for the trust you built and the way the story was told from the family’s point of view. Congratulations on your work. I have been judging state newspaper contests for two decades and this is right up there among the best entries I have seen.”
The collection of articles also earned Second Place in the In-Depth Reporting category.
Press Managing Editor Timothy Bolger clinched Third Place honors in the In-Depth Reporting category for his scathing, no-holds-barred investigative analysis of Long Island’s ongoing heroin epidemic and the failure of local elected officials and municipalities to adequately address it, titled “How Long Island Is Losing Its War On Heroin.” Bolger was part of the Press team that first exposed the insidious drug’s lethal grip on local youth in 2008, in a series titled “Long Highland,” which earned the inaugural presentation of the Sharon R. Fulmer Award for Community Leadership that year for those efforts.
“A very long article but easy to read,” commented judges. “I appreciated that the article was not just a collection of facts and figures and quotes from officials but incorporated how individuals are affected by heroin. I also appreciated that the writer tied the end of the article to the beginning by bringing in Mr. Ciappa.”
Franchi won Second Place honors in the Sports Feature and Feature Story categories for her intimate portrait of legendary New York Islanders left wing Clark Gillies that highlighted his charitable efforts, and her heartfelt, masterfully crafted narrative about formerly homeless women veterans selflessly working to help other vets returning from war—“Clark Gillies: Power Player For L.I. Children” and “Women Vets Serving The Under-Served,” respectively.
“A moving feature that ties a human element into a specific, important issue,” praised judges about the latter, published in the Press’ sister publication Milieu Magazine. “Overall, this is a great example of feature work.”
LongIslandPress.com, programmed and designed by Director of New Media Michael Conforti, took home First Place in the Best User Experience category, with judges remarking:
“Of all the entries, this one effectively engages viewers providing an enjoyable experience and effortless navigation just as the contest rules state. I like the dropdowns with the photos with one line summary and placement of a few ads which don’t distract from the navigation of the site. Great job and looks easy to keep updated. Length of the homepage is just right, not too short and not extremely long as many of the entries.”
LongIslandPress.com also nabbed Second Place for Best Home Page, with judges stating: “The design and typography on this home page are clean and sharp looking… The fact that the drop down menus show photos and story is great. The page is easy to scan for topics of interest.”
Bolger, Rumsey, Twarowski and Press Contributor Shelly Feuer Domash earned an Honorable Mention nod in the News Story category for their investigative exclusive “Bigger Mess: Costly New Twist In Ongoing Nassau Police Crime Lab Scandal,” which exposed that despite assurances to the contrary by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and then-Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, county taxpayers were secretly being charged more than $2.4 million for unprecedented mismanagement and shameful and/or voluntary negligence at its now-shuttered police crime laboratory.
“Out of more than 55 entries, an honorable mention is nothing to scoff at,” wrote judges. “A very solid story bolstered by tons of research on an issue that appeared to have a major impact on taxpayers.”
The quartet also earned an Honorable Mention in the Coverage of Local Government category for their collaborative multi-story package that included “Bigger Mess,” Rumsey’s “East Northport Senior Housing Proposal Sparks Heated Debate” and “NIFA OKs Mangano’s 3.4% Nassau Tax Hike,” and Bolger’s comprehensive “Red Light Camera Lobbying for School Bus Stop-Arm Cams.”
“This is the kind of in-depth coverage across mediums that we need to see more of,” declared judges. “The coverage was a winner.”
The Press staff won Second Place in the Best Use of Social Media category, with judges praising: “This entry does what we all want, engage the community as well as giving comprehensive, in-depth and up-to-date information that affects their lives.”
Art Director Jon Sasala and the Morey Publishing design team earned First Place in the Best Advertising Campaign category for their imaginative and visually arresting representation of a local podiatry center.
“Great job on this advertising campaign,” commended judges. “The different pictures of feet used in this campaign drew the reader’s eye to the ads, as if the ad jumped off the page. Great job of using a campaign to further bring business to this customer. The ads showed simplicity in advertising, which most often captures the audience’s attention.
“Good campaign!” they reiterated.
Press staff won First Place in the Special Sections/Niche Publications category for its annual Power List publication highlighting Long Island’s 50 most influential residents.
Staffers also took Second Place in the Best Special Section – Advertising category for the annual Bethpage “Best of L.I.” awards competition and publication, with judges declaring the ads “original and eye-catching,” the listings “excellent” and the categories “creative.”
LongIslandPress.com’s “Press Patrons Program” earned Second Place honors in the Best Online Advertising / Marketing Campaign category, with judges exclaiming:
“Wow! Beautiful landing pages. The links to the landing pages are given prominence on the front page and look very attractive. Not a lot of ‘call to action’ since it isn’t a standard advertising campaign. Cohesive approach to the ‘patrons’ pages.”
The Press also won Second Place in the Best Front Page category for the newspaper’s powerful, eye-catching covers.
“Great images,” remarked judges. “Clean, crisp appearance. Strong typography and color choices.”
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