Of the more than 60 awards handed out each year by the New York Press Association, only one judges a newspaper from cover to cover. Writing, advertising, photography and design are all measured when the Past Presidents’ Award for General Excellence is judged.
For the first time since 1999, The Suffolk Times has claimed first place general excellence in the contest’s largest circulation division.
The award was handed out to members of The Suffolk Times staff during the Better Newspaper Contest portion of NYPA’s annual spring convention in Saratoga Springs this past weekend. The Suffolk Times won five first place awards during the competition, which was judged by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association and featured entries published in 2013 by 158 different newspapers across New York state.
To compete for the Past Presidents’ Award , The Suffolk Times had to submit three full editions. Those issues included extended coverage of Southold Town’s deer population, the history of Goldsmith Inlet and the Greenport skate park.
“We’re so excited to win this top award,” said Times/Review Newsgroup co-owner and publisher Andrew Olsen, who has served as a publisher of the newspaper since 2003. “Our staff works tirelessly to deliver the news that matters most to our readers in print and on the web, and it’s great to be recognized for that effort.”
Reporter Carrie Miller, who primarily covers health, science and the environment for the company, was also named NYPA’s Rookie of the Year, a first for a Times/Review reporter. She is a 2012 graduate of Stony Brook University, where she earned a master’s degree in Science Journalism.
“I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to win that award,” said Grant Parpan, who was hired by Times/Review as a general assignment reporter covering Brookhaven Town in 2006 and took over as executive editor in 2012. “Carrie is a reporter’s reporter. She puts extra effort into her research and always digs to deliver a fair, accurate and informative account of the subject she is covering.”
The Suffolk Times earned the fifth most editorial and advertising points of any newspaper in the contest.
Other first place awards captured by The Suffolk Times include in-depth reporting — a category Times/Review swept — for a history piece from reporters Cyndi Murray and Paul Squire on the 75th anniversary of the Hurricane of 1938; spot news coverage by Ms. Miller for her story about police swarming the Cross Sound Ferry in search of the Boston Marathon bomber; best digital ad by artist Charles Tumino; and best multi-advertiser pages by designer Kendra Beavis.
More than 15 Times/Review staffers and contributors earned awards during the competition, including Mr. Squire, who was named on a company-best nine awards this year, including first place for News Story for his coverage of a hit-and-run court case for the Riverhead News-Review.
“We’ve tried our very best to deliver a wide variety of news coverage to our loyal readers,” said Suffolk Times editor Michael White, who took the helm of the paper this past August. “The awards in so many different contest categories bears testament to a multi-talented staff.”
A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and a former staff writer at the New York Daily News, Mr. White has also served as the editor of the News-Review since 2008. That paper won the Stuart C. Dorman Award for Editorial Excellence this year, the top editorial prize in the contest.
Stuart C. Dorman was the publisher of the News-Review from 1976 until his death in 1978, the year he was to have served as NYPA president. He was publisher of The Suffolk Times from 1969 to 1978 and was also president and founder of Graphics of Peconic. A Harvard graduate, he also served a stint as a vice president of McGraw Hill Book Co.
This is the fourth time in eight years that a Times/Review newspaper has claimed the Stuart C. Dorman Award, with the former North Shore Sun newspaper winning in 2006 and 2008 and The Suffolk Times bringing it home in 2009. A Long Island newspaper — The Long Island Press and Sag Harbor Express being the others — has now won the award for the sixth consecutive year.
Times/Review, which also includes the Shelter Island Reporter, took home more awards than any other newspaper group during this year’s competition. The company won a total of 49 awards.
The success comes in a year in which Times/Review restructured its newsroom, hiring a managing editor and three new reporters, and moving each of the reporters into specific beats that span the entire North Fork. The company also launched its lifestyle website northforker.com in 2013.
“Instead of having reporters that cover everything from congressional races and school board meetings to pie-eating contests and house fires, but only in one market, everyone now covers specific topics across the entire North Fork,” said Mr. Parpan, who began his career in the sports department of The Signal, a daily newspaper in Santa Clarita, Calif. “We have an education reporter, two government reporters, an environmental reporter, a features writer, and a general assignment reporter who covers everything in between. It’s a system more typical of a daily newspaper, like the ones where Mike and I previously worked. We’re now a daily online publisher, but we’ve also improved our weekly print products.”
“As a small company with a 24-7 web operation and multiple print products, our staff writers still occasionally dabble in a little bit of everything,” added Mr. White. “But the transition has given the reporters a chance to dig deeper into the most important issues within their beats, and that has without question made us all better at what we do.”