For the second consecutive year, The Suffolk Times captured the Newspaper of the Year award in the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. For the first time, the paper swept the top two awards by also winning the Stuart C. Dorman Award for Editorial Excellence.
For the sixth consecutive year, Times Review Media Group — publishers of The Suffolk Times, Riverhead News-Review and Shelter Island Reporter — took home more awards than any other newspaper group in the contest. The papers won 47 awards and combined to earn 425 points in the contest.
A total of 163 newspapers submitted 2,743 entries in the contest. The awards were presented Friday and Saturday in Albany at NYPA’s annual spring conference.
The Stuart C. Dorman Award goes to the newspaper that accumulates the most editorial points in the contest. It was the third time the award went to The Suffolk Times since 2009. The Sag Harbor Express had won the award the three prior years.
The Suffolk Times won six first place editorial awards. Editor Joe Werkmeister won first place for Sports Writer of the Year. He had previously won first place in 2008 and 2010. The judges said: “He is able to capture the most compelling aspects of stories that likely engage readers, not just sports fans. … Joe’s attention to details and ability to describe those details to his readers keeps them engaged and always wanting more. Fantastic work.”
Judges also recognized Sports Editor Bob Liepa with first place for Sports Coverage. He also received second place in the category for the Riverhead News-Review.
The judges wrote of The Suffolk Times’ sports sections: “I loved all of this writer’s stories, and the great pictures and page layouts to capture the sports teams’ successes.”
Former Web Editor Taylor Vecsey won first place for spot news coverage for her story on a water rescue last April. A 34-foot wooden boat had struck rocks in bad weather and was taking on water when a combined rescue effort began to save three men.
“Great reporting on what happened during the scene, how the rescue occurred and what happened after it,” the judges wrote.
Content Director Grant Parpan won first place for Best Online News Project or Presentation for a podcast titled “Conversation: Former Greenport mayor Joe Townsend on his life before and with ALS.” Mr. Parpan led the paper’s renewed effort into publishing podcasts in 2018. The judges said of the first place entry: “What a wonderful way to document local history.” The Closer Look podcast in the News-Review detailing the uncertain future of big box retail in Riverhead also won third place in the same category.
A first place award went to Mr. Parpan, Tara Smith, Cyndi Zaweski and Kelly Zegers for Coverage of Business, Financial and Economic News.
For the second straight year, The Suffolk Times won first place for Magazine. The winning northforker magazine was led by Mr. Parpan, Eric Hod, Cyndi Zaweski, Michelina DaFonte and David Benthal.
“Readers should be proud to be associated with such a beautiful product,” the judges wrote.
The Suffolk Times also tallied 50 points in advertising awards, including first place for Best House Ad/Ad Campaign. The paper earned second place for Advertising Excellence.
East End news organizations were well represented. The Press Newspaper Group earned the second most contest points among group or chain newspapers with 310. Joseph Shaw, the Press Group’s executive editor, and Sabina Rebis, M.D. won first place for News Story for their reporting on the roots of the opioid crisis. The story ran in The Suffolk Times as well as part of the East End News Project’s coverage of opioids on the East End. Times Review Media Group, Press Newsgroup and the Sag Harbor Express also shared a second place award for Community Leadership for the combined reporting on opioids.
The Independent finished second in editorial contest points and Dan’s Papers tallied the most advertising points. Sag Harbor Express freelancer Michelle Trauring won first place for Writer of the Year.
Members of the Wisconsin Press Association judged the entries in January.
Photo caption: The Times Review staff with the Stuart C. Dorman Award for Editorial Excellence and the Newspaper of the Year Award. Pictured from left, reporter Mahreen Khan, editor Joe Werkmeister, content director Grant Parpan, graphic artist Michael Versandi and reporter Kate Nalepinski. (Courtesy photo)