By Tom Nicholson
TimesLedger newspapers this week captured seven first-place and three second-place awards in the 2003 Suburban Newspapers of America contest, including the coveted Suburban Journalist of the Year award won by reporter Courtney Dentch.
Competing in a field of about 2,000 newspapers throughout North America in several categories of news and sports coverage, the TimesLedger newspapers had an unprecedented showing in the annual contest.
“It’s the best the paper has done,” said Managing Editor Roz Liston. “We have an outstanding staff of reporters who are always willing to go the extra mile to make the paper particularly relevant to the readers.”
Representatives from SNA gave the TimesLedger staff a pat on the back this week for being among the best in the nation.
“Winning nine awards plus the Journalist of the Year award is a tremendous showing,” said Debbie Kyes, spokeswoman for the SNA. “Your publisher should be very proud — the competition is fierce and what the TimesLedger did was incredible.”
For Dentch, who began working as a reporter for the TimesLedger Newspapers, two years ago, landing the Journalist of the Year award was an honor that made a year of hard work worthwhile.
“It’s good to know that after all this week-to-week stress and chaos that someone appreciates the work I did,” Dentch said. “We just do our jobs, but it’s difficult to know where you stand with other reporters across the country.”
For the contest, Dentch entered 10 stories that she had filed to covering her beats for the Jamaica Times and the Laurelton Times.
Her story topics included an inside scoop on the usually closed-door process of judicial nominations, a profile on a Pakistani man who sought political asylum in Queens, a Muslim mosque’s trials with its growing street fair on Sutphin Boulevard, and an angry community that railed against police for heavy-handed drug raid tactics.
“I was most proud of the judicial nominee story,” Dentch said. “It was an inside view of a very closed process. I got to educate myself and the public about the process.”
Liston said Dentch, a 24-year-old State University of New York at Binghamton graduate with a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, is “one of the best and the brightest reporters we’ve had at the TimesLedger.”
“She sets a high standard in the newsroom,” Liston said.
Among the high honors TimesLedger took in the contest was a first-ever Best Sports Page award that went to Sports Editor Anthony Bosco and Assistant Sports Editor Dylan Butler.
Bosco, a longtime veteran of Queens sports coverage, writes stories and does the layout of the TimesLedger sports pages.
“We’re very happy to get the award,” Bosco said. “I think it reflects the hard work we do every week.”
Publisher Steve Blank said the TimesLedger staff excelled in a pack of competitors that includes many weekly papers owned by large chains with more resources than the TimesLedger.
“It’s a reflection of the hard work and talent of the staff,” Blank said. “The TimesLedger is getting better.”
Other first place awards won by TimesLedger newspapers include:
• Best Coverage of Local Business and Economic News, which included stories by Alexander Dworkowitz about a Korean billboard that sparked outrage in the Flushing community because it excluded English explanations.
• Best Local Election Coverage, staff. Extensive coverage included city council elections and a voters guide.
• Best In-depth Reporting, “Judicial Election Series,” Courtney Dentch and Dustin Brown. Extensive reporting on how judges in Queens County are elected to the bench.
• Best Editorial Page, “Stand and Deliver,” Editorial Board.
• Best Breaking News Story, “Hollis-Bred Rap Icon Shot Dead,” Courtney Dentch. A package of stories on the fatal shooting of Run-DMC Disc Jockey Jam Master Jay in Jamaica.
* Second place awards
Best News Series “Budget Cuts,” Staff. A group of dozens of stories over several months that detailed city budget and state cuts.
* Best Breaking News Story, “Family Stabbed,” Alex Ginsberg. A story reported and filed well after deadline about a family of four in South Jamaica found stabbed to death.
• Best Local Election Coverage, “Jennings Election Series,” Courtney Dentch. A series of nearly a dozen stories that followed a maverick councilman prior to and through his re-election campaign.
Reach reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at email@example.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.