Photo by Kevin Zimmerman
By Karen Frantz

TimesLedger Newspapers won 13 journalism awards at the New York Press Association annual convention last weekend in Saratoga, N.Y., where the chain’s editors and reporters were recognized for editorial excellence.

The TimesLedger, which is based in Bayside, covers the many diverse neighborhoods in Queens.

The NYPA received 2,351 entries for its 2012 Better Newspaper Contest from 150 newspapers from across the state competing for awards in 60 categories.

TimesLedger won three first place awards, two second place awards, six third place awards and two honorable mentions.

“Every member of the TimesLedger editorial staff was represented in the awards that we won,” said Roz Liston, editor. “This speaks to the enormous team effort that is an everyday part of the newsroom and was tested even further by our coverage of Hurricane Sandy.”

Photo Editor Christina Santucci won two first-place awards, one for Spot News Photos of the devastation Hurricane Sandy unleashed in Queens and another for Picture Story for her coverage of the colorful Holi parade in Richmond Hill.

“There’s so much to like about all these photos. Sandy was a wide-reaching storm, and the variety shown here shows the different ways the region was affected,” the judges said of Santucci’s Sandy coverage:

“I feel honored that the NYPA recognized our work, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” Santucci said. “Our entire staff worked together to cover the tremendous destruction in Queens and the struggle of borough residents to rebuild in its wake. We plan on continuing to update our readers about progress in hard-hit areas like the Rockaways as time goes on.”

NYPA commended her on the use of color and variety in her Holi parade coverage, saying the photos were not ones you look at only once.

Santucci, who is also the managing editor, won third place for Photographer of the Year, with the judges commending her for having a portfolio with variety and emotion and demonstrating a good eye, hard work and strong technical ability.

TimesLedger also took in other awards for its coverage of the hurricane, including first place for Best Special Section for its coverage of the Sandy relief efforts in “Neighbor to Neighbor.”

The section showcased how Queens residents were helping each other rebuild, which included coverage of grassroots action in the borough, the challenges in pulling together disaster relief and information on how people could apply for aid or help others in need.

Sports Editor Joe Staszewski also took a second place prize for Best Sports Feature for his coverage of the impact of Sandy on a high school volleyball program.

“Reading about the angst and determination of all involved makes you want to root for them to succeed,” NYPA said. “This is more than a sports story. It’s human drama.”

Reporter Rich Bockmann won second place for Best News Series in his coverage of the controversial practice of stop-and-frisk in the borough and its effect on minority communities in southeast Queens.

“The writer does a nice job of covering a hot-button issue while staying neutral and sticking to the facts,” NYPA said.

The paper also won third place prizes for Spot News of Hurricane Sandy coverage, which included online and print stories about the preparations for the storm and the early-hours impact it had on the borough. The submission included about 15 print stories and five online stories — many of which were filed while power was out in staff members’ homes.

The TimesLedger’s Jamaica Times also took third place for Best Editorial Page, which included editorials on fighting crime in southeast Queens and disappointment with changes to the city school system.

The Whitestone Times captured third place for Best Business Coverage, which featured a piece on a controversial catering hall and a number of other stories about development projects for the area.

The Jamaica Times and the Astoria Times each won third place for a series of stories submitted for Best Crime Coverage. The Jamaica Times entry featured a story on youth violence in Queens and the Astoria Times had an article about a Queens Supreme Court judge who was attacked by an NYPD officer as he was watching an arrest take place.

Reporter Phil Corso took an honorable mention for Best News Feature for his coverage of the infighting over the Bayside Business Improvement District leadership, and Santucci won an honorable mention for Best Spot News Story for a story on a Springfield Gardens knife attack.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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