By Howard Koplowitz
The four individual awards, handed out at NYPA's spring convention last week in Albany, marked the first time the weekly chain placed in all of those categories in the same year.But it was two Past President's awards won by TimesLedger, a category recognizing overall editorial excellence, that TimesLedger Publisher Steve Blank said demonstrated the high quality of the chain's 14 newspapers.The Bayside Times came in first for the Past President's Award, while the Flushing Times received third place.Judges commended the Bayside Times' “strong and varied news coverage” and its “nice range of letters and columns.””It sort of speaks for itself,” Blank said of the awards. “The Past President's Award is the award for best news coverage and we had the No. 1 paper, the Bayside Times, and the No. 3 paper, the Flushing Times.”It's nice to have validation,” he said. “We're always saying that our newspapers are among the best in the country.”Flushing Times reporter Stephen Stirling captured a third place award for Writer of the Year.The judges pointed out Stirling's “well-researched, comprehensive articles are both colorful and impressively organized. His ledes draw attention well, immediately creating a sharp and engaging focus that keeps you reading.”Sports Editor Dylan Butler received third place for Sports Writer of the Year for the “good breadth, variety and perspective in [his] writing.”Photo Editor Cat Cutillo was awarded second place for Photographer of the Year for pictures that were “very interesting and strong.”Ivan Pereira came in second for Rookie Reporter of the Year for his “terrific spot news reporting. Good instincts, versatile, hard-working reporter.”Besides the first-place Past President's Award, the Bayside Times also earned the top prize for Sports Coverage with the judges citing “solid game stories and compelling features on athletes with local connections.”The chain took home nine second-place honors, including Coverage of Crime, Police and Courts, Best Editorial Page, Overall Design Excellence, Editorials and Special Sections – all for the Bayside Times.One of the second-place prizes was given to Alex Christodoulides of the Fresh Meadows Times in the Sports Feature category for her coverage of Sri Chinmoy's Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race.Another second-place award went to the Fresh Meadows Times for Circulation Promotion, honoring the advertising division of the chain.TimesLedger also received five third-place awards, including a prize for the Jamaica Times for editorial writing and for the Howard Beach Times for Sports Action Photos.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.