By Courtney Dentch
The TimesLedger Newspapers took first place in two categories of the 2001 Suburban Newspaper Association contest and earned two other editorial awards in a competition that draws entries from daily and weekly newspapers across North America.
The Queens chain of 13 weekly papers won awards in four categories, including Best Breaking News Story, Best Feature, Best Coverage of Local Education and Best Special Section.
“The fact that we competed and we did well in these important categories — which really represent the core of a newspaper — reflects our commitment to the community,” said TimesLedger Publisher Steve Blank.
The two first place entries came from the chain’s coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the aftermath. The Breaking News entry, “Terrorist Attacks Rock Queens,” was compiled by the entire newsroom in the hours after the attack before the papers went to press and in the following days up through the next issue.
The TimesLedger was the only weekly newspaper in Queens to have a reporter near Ground Zero soon after the planes hit the Twin Towers, said Managing Editor Roz Liston.
“It was a true team effort,” she said.
The feature, “Ethnic Impact of Terrorist Attacks,” was written by Richmond Hill Times reporter Daniel Massey. The series described the repercussions of the Sept. 11 assault for Muslims and Sikhs living in Queens.
“He’s really done an excellent job on what it means to be a Muslim or a Sikh in Queens and in America,” Liston said.
The awards were presented for work published between October 2000 and October 2001. The SNA received more than 1,100 entries for the 24 categories from across North America.
“This is very prestigious because it is a national competition,” Blank said.
The categories, such as editorial, entertainment, photojournalism and environmental coverage, are broken down into six circulation classes. The TimesLedger’s entries won in three different classes, based on the number of the chain’s papers in which they appeared.
The submissions were read by 12 judges over two days and then discussed by the panel, according to the award announcement.
The TimesLedger also won second place for coverage of “Local Education and School District Issues,” also a team effort from the newsroom.
“Education is a very high priority for our papers because Queens has the city’s most crowded schools — some of the best and some of the worst academically,” Liston said.
The TimesLedger staff was honored with a third place award in Special Sections for its Anniversary Edition, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Whitestone Times. The issue was filled with stories about the history of the Whitestone and College Point area.
Blank bought the Bayside Times and the Little Neck Ledger in 1989 and since then has added 11 other newspapers that serve neighborhoods throughout Queens. They are the Whitestone Times, the Flushing Times, the Fresh Meadows Times, the Glen Oaks Ledger, the Queens Village Times, the Jamaica Times, the Laurelton Times, the Forest Hill Ledger, the Richmond Hill Times, the Astoria Times and the Ridgewood Ledger.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.