Betsy Ashton Named President of Silurians,
Sixth Woman to Helm the 91-Year-Old Club
Betsy Ashton, a television newswoman who left the business and became a full-time portraitist but who never lost her zeal for journalism or the press clubs that support it, has been elected president of the Silurians. She will preside over her first luncheon in that role when the 2015-16 season gets underway on Sept. 24 and has announced that Matt Winkler, the former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, will be the guest speaker. Further details will be forthcoming at a later date.
Ashton succeeds Allan Dodds Frank, who had been president since 2013 and who now moves to the Advisory Committee. In other changes, Bernard Kirsch, who continues as editor of the Silurian News, becomes first vice president and Myron Kandel moves from the Advisory Committee to the Board of Governors. Other officers and board members remain the same: Linda Amster was reelected secretary and Karen Bedrosian Richardson continues as treasurer. Returning board members are Ralph Blumenthal, Jack Deacy, Bill Diehl, Gerald Eskenazi, Tony Guida, Linda Goetz Holmes, Carol Lawson, Barbara Lovenheim, Ben Patrusky, Anne Roiphe and Mort Sheinman.
Sixty-eight people have led the Silurians since the club was founded in 1924, but Ashton is just the sixth woman in that post, an imbalance resulting from a policy that banned women as members until 1971. In 1981, Josephine Coppola was elected the club’s first female president. She was followed by Eve Berliner, Joan Cook, Joy Cook and Linda Goetz Holmes. Today, women account for about 40 percent of the membership.
Among Ashton’s accomplishments as first VP was making it possible for lunch payments to be made by credit card. She also kept track of lunch reservations, a job that will now be handled by Kirsch. Ashton, who joined the Silurians in 2009, began her journalism career in the 1970s as a reporter and anchor for a couple of radio stations in Washington, D.C., before turning to television as a reporter and weekend anchor at WJLA-TV in Washington. In 1982, she was brought to New York as a consumer reporter for WCBS-TV, and subsequently as a consumer reporter and editor for the “CBS Morning News.” She was the first woman president of the Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (1979); a two-time president of the SPJ’s New York chapter, the Deadline Club (1994 and 2000); a 2007 recipient of SPJ’s Wells Memorial Key award; and has emceed the Deadline Club’s annual awards gala for the last 25 years. As a long-time board member of Friends of Thirteen, she occasionally appears on fund-raising spots for PBS stations around the country.
In 2007, Ashton became a full-time portrait artist, pursuing a dream she had been nurturing since childhood. In addition to being represented in many private collections, Ashton has a portrait of Philip Lader, former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, hanging in the American Embassy in London, and her portrait of actor Hal Holbrook is in the Hall of Fame collection of the Players Club in New York.
24 News Organizations Honored at 2015 Silurians’ Dinner,
Peter Kihss Award Goes to David Gonzalez of The Times
The best journalism turned out in New York’s greater metropolitan area in 2014 was honored by the Silurians when reporters, editors, producers, columnists, editorial writers, photographers and bloggers from 24 news organizations were saluted at this year’s annual Excellence in Journalism Awards Dinner.
The dinner, held on May 19 at the Players, was hosted by outgoing president Allan Dodds Frank. It drew what is believed to be a record crowd for such an event, pulling in 166 members and guests, according to dinner chair Wendy Sclight. There were 114 submissions from which the winners were selected, said Frank. Carol Lawson chaired the Silurians’ Awards Committee.
Veteran newsman David Gonzalez of The New York Times took home the Silurians’ Peter Kihss Award, given annually to the reporter whose work best reflects the spirit and character of the man for whom it is named. Kihss was known for his thoroughness as a reporter, his ability to find the human element in even the most statistics-driven of stories, and his willingness to help younger colleagues and even rival reporters. Before his death in 1984 at the age of 72, Kihss reported for The Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York World-Telegram, The New York Herald Tribune and, for 30 years until his retirement on Aug. 31, 1982, The Times.
Gonzalez joined The Times in 1990 after cutting his teeth as a researcher and then a reporter in Detroit and Miami for Newsweek. He began at The Times as a general assignment reporter before being assigned to cover the Bronx, where he was born and raised. He also covered the religion beat for The Times, went on to write the “About New York” column, reported from the Caribbean and created several features for the paper on one of his first loves: photography. For a full profile of Gonzalez by Ralph Blumenthal, see the May issue of the Silurian News.
The Dennis Duggan Memorial Scholarship Award, which goes annually to a promising student at the Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, was presented to Cole Rosengren of the Class of 2015.
Following is a list of all the winners of medallions and certificates of merit.
- PRINT: BREAKING NEWS
The New York Times
“Two Officers Ambushed”
by The New York Times team: Ben Mueller, Al Baker, J. David Goodman, Matt Flegenheimer, Kim Barker, Ashley Southall, Jeffrey E. Singer, Nina Bernstein, Alan Blinder, Richard Fausset, Sandra E. Garcia, Edna Ishayik, Thomas Kaplan, Sarah Maslin Nir, William K. Rashbaum, Kenneth Rosen, Marc Santora, Nate Schweber, Mosi Secret, Melody Simmons, Vivian Yee, Jack Begg
Despite minimal metro staffing and the looming early Sunday deadline, The New York Times reporters scrambled to reconstruct the cold-blooded executions of police officers Wenjin Liu and Rafael Ramos in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The Times team also compiled a comprehensive portrait of the killer and illuminated the complex tensions of an NYPD then at war with the Mayor.
Newsday for “Deadly Blast”
When an East Harlem gas explosion flattened two buildings, killed four people and injured dozens more, Newsday’s team of 10 reporters produced an excellent comprehensive look at the tragedy and its causes.
- PRINT: FEATURE NEWS
The New York Times
“Baptism By Fire” by N.R. (Sonny) Kleinfield
Kleinfield crafts the story of a probationary fireman’s first fire and his rescue of a baby boy in a burning apartment into a beautifully written and researched epic narrative. Not only does he tell the story of probationary fireman Jordan Sullivan and his unlikely path to the Fire Department, but gives us an intimate picture of the men of Ladder 105, the fire they fought and the life and culture of the firehouse.
The New York Times
“Palm Sunday” by Joe Goldstein
Thirty years after 10 people, including eight children, were massacred on Palm Sunday, Goldstein revisited the sole survivor, now a 31-year-old woman, and the policewoman who rescued her and later adopted her.
- PRINT: INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
The Associated Press
“Death on Rikers Island” by Jake Pearson
In a devastating and chilling 10-part exposé that ran from March to December, backed up with exhaustive documentation from internal reports, The Associated Press revealed a sickening pattern of physical abuse and criminal neglect at New York City’s largest jail complex, leading to official investigations and reforms.
The New York Times
“Meddling Governor” by Suzanne Craig, Thomas Kaplan and William K. Rashbaum
This expose of the collapse of the Moreland Commission and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s promise to clean up corruption in Albany revealed that the governor is a master of the back room whose orders mandating government transparency might as well have been written in invisible ink.
- PRINT: SPORTS REPORTING
The Daily News for “Cooking The Books” by Teri Thompson, Mary Papenfuss, Christian Red, Nathaniel Vinton
A classically investigated and reported look at corruption inside the secret, lucrative world of international soccer at the highest levels and how a group of tenacious insiders made millions–often by illegal means.
“Five teams passed on Derek Jeter; here’s what they think about that now” by Steven Marcus
A fascinating story about how Derek Jeter ended up in pinstripes and the teams that passed on him in the 1992 baseball draft ended up in the dumps.
- PRINT: BUSINESS & FINANCIAL REPORTING
“The For-Profit Prescription” by Lindy Washburn
This three-part series revealed how the business of health care has changed dramatically in New Jersey, enabling some for-profit hospital operators to make fortunes by acquiring faltering non-profit institutions in a shadowy health-care/business/political environment.
Two Merit Awards:
Bloomberg News for “Wall Street Finds New Subprime With Brokers Pitching 125% Loans” by Zeke Faux
When there is a new way to exploit the vulnerable with predatory lending, the financial vultures will find it. This story illuminates the latest dark blot on the record of the financial industry as its usurious practices target small businesses.
“War of the Words” by Keith Gessen
A map of the battle between Amazon on the West Coast and Hachette publishing in France over money that has the financial fate of publishing capital of the world and writers everywhere in its grip.
- PRINT: SCIENCE AND HEALTH REPORTING
The New York Times
“A Father’s Wish, a Daughter’s Anguish” by Nina Bernstein
An exhaustively researched, beautifully framed and eloquently crafted narrative of a daughter’s frustrating and ultimately heartbreakingly fruitless quest for end-of-life home care for her dying father. By personalizing the story and writing it as poignantly as she did, Bernstein brought into stark relief the manner in which the nation’s health system, driven by financial incentives and based on finding the maximum government reimbursement, works in favor of hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care providers over the needs and wishes of the patients they serve.
“Emergency by Appointment at Mount Sinai” by David Armstrong, Peter Waldman and Gary Putka
This expose of how Mount Sinai -one of New York’s leading hospitals – games the Medicaid system to extract maximum profits while degrading emergency room care should be required reading for regulators and legislators. And patients.
- PRINT: ARTS/CULTURAL REPORTING
“Art Flippers Chase Fresh Stars as Murillo’s Doodles Soar” by Katya Kazakina
This story exposed the mania of the art market and the bad behavior of moneymen who are chasing little-known young artists, buying and stockpiling their works and then hyping them to make quick financial killings.
Merit Award: Vanity Fair
“Too Rich, Too Thin, Too Tall?” by Paul Goldberger.
A disturbing portrait of the shadows cast by new construction projects for the ultra-rich and how Central Park and the psyche of New York City will suffer.
- PRINT JOURNALISM: EDITORIAL WRITING AND COMMENTARY
Stile, in a yearlong series of riveting columns, chronicled in keen-eyed detail the political evolution of the embattled governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Stile even took a look at Christie’s run for student body president in a combative college campaign that hinted at many career adventures and incidents to come. Prompted by a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that Christie oddly invoked in his keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in 2012, Stile matched the governor’s deeds to other words by India’s legendary exponent of non-violence, resulting in a wry and remarkably informative study in contrasts.
- PRINT: NEWS ANALYSIS
Two Medallion Winners:
“Christie’s Report Language Tells a Story”
by Herb Jackson, John Reitmeyer and Michael Linhorst
The Record’s expertly parsed the 344-page report prepared by Governor Chris Christie’s legal team that exonerated him. The Record’s analysis delineated many instances in which the Christie report failed to meet accepted standards for writing government investigative reports.
Columns by Joye Brown
In several insightful columns about life on Long Island, Joye Brown called on Hempstead Town officials to bear responsibility for shortcomings in education. She also looked critically at deficiencies of the bureaucracy to illuminate the likely causes of poor performance and government decision-making. Another column by Brown investigated a spate of unsolved killings in Suffolk County and prompted a public outcry for action.
- PRINT: COMMUNITY SERVICE
The Daily News, in conjunction with the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s NYCity News Service, for “Stop The Mold: Tracking the Scourge in Public Housing”
by Greg B. Smith , New York Daily News. Allegra Abramo, Natalie Abruzzo, Julia Alsop Frank Green, Gwynne Hogan, Ross Keith, Roxanne Scott, Melisa Stumpf, María Villaseñor, NYCity News Service.
This investigative series on problems with the New York City Housing Authority produced an incisive look at a major problem—mold, almost endemic in public housing — and depicted the heartbreaking, ongoing frustration many tenants suffer. These stories triggered a city investigation into the epic failures at the housing authority.
The Poughkeepsie Journal
“Killers & Pain” by Mary Beth Pfeiffer
Utilizing Freedom of Information requests and robust data bases, this series revealed the deadly links between heroin and prescription drug overuse.
- PRINT: BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY:
“Hostage Situation” by Tariq Zehawi
Zehawi’s dramatic photo of a SWAT team subduing a mother who had been threatening to harm her children also captures the precise moment when other officers were whisking the youngsters to safety.
The Daily News.
“EDP Businessman” by Marcus Santos
An unconventional portrait of an emotionally disturbed man hurling ice and epithets at New York City’s finest near the World Trade Center.
12: PRINT: FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
The Daily News
“Eric Garner Protest at Barclay’s Center” by Stephanie Keith
A close-up and personal depiction of two vastly different faces in a confrontation between police and protesters,in Brooklyn following the death of Eric Garner.
The Daily News
“Ramos-Liu Memorial” by James Keivom
For his powerfully emotional photo of a former police officer and his daughter at a memorial for the two NYPD officers who were murdered in Brooklyn
- PRINT: SPORTS NEWS OR FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY
The Daily News
Sabo’s you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it photograph of New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham making a stunning touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys.
“California Chrome” by J. Conrad Williams
A glimpse of the Preakness Winner and the possum working out at Belmont Park.
- MAGAZINES: INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
“Anything But Secure” by David Evans
Evans uncovered a $1 billion internet-based scam that preyed on investors around the globe with promises of big returns trading currencies. The investors got robbed and the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York opened a criminal investigation.
- MAGAZINES: FEATURE WRITING
“To Live and Die in America” by Nancy Jo Sales
This exploration of the murders of four young Iranians who had migrated to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to develop an indie rock band called the Yellow Dogs poignantly captures the decline of one former band member and how his despair shattered the dreams of the others.
“Andy Hall Goes All In” by Bradley Olson
A penetrating profile of a legendary Wall Street commodities trader whose golden touch trading oil may have turned to lead.
- MAGAZINES: PUBLIC SERVICE
Financial Planning magazine
“Could Financial Planning Help Stem the Rate of Military Suicides?” by Ann Marsh.
This thoroughly researched, in-depth examination of how financial stress has become a major factor in military suicide led to Congressional legislation mandating the military to provide financial advice and counseling to active-duty personnel and veterans.
“Overworked and Underwhelmed” by Dawn Kopecki
This article helped prompt Wall Street investment banks to rethink the path to riches they set out for young associates. It illustrated the stress, sleep deprivation and lack of a normal 20-something life that are devastating to physical and mental health
- TELEVISION INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
News 12 New Jersey
“Kane In Your Corner: Students Restrained”
A troubling investigation examining the abuse — or is it discipline — of special needs children in New Jersey. In the absence of laws governing the conduct of teachers and counselors, children are at risk and their parents are in the dark.
“Sex Trafficking” by Dean Meminger
A good look at the exploitation of teenage girls in New York and the difficulty of stopping it
- TELEVISION BREAKING NEWS
“No Indictment in the Death of Eric Garner”
It was high drama as NY1 broke the news to viewers that there would be no indictment by a grand jury in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island.
- TELEVISION FEATURE NEWS
“Outside the Lines: Tragic State”
John Barr, Correspondent. William Weinbaum, producer Bryan Brousseau, Joe LoMonaco, Marc Lustig, directors of photography. Rob Berman, Scott O’Leary, editors. Chris Buckle, deputy editor. Joshua Vorensky, production assistant, Carolyn Hong, coordinating producer. Rayna Banks, asssociate producer, PJ DeCordova, Eric Lynch, assignment editors. Dwayne Bray, senior coordinating producer. Vince Doria, vice president of news.
This examination of the tragic aftermath of the injuries suffered by heavyweight title contender Magomed Abdusalamov in a Madison Square Garden fight offers deep insight into how the fight establishment works and how imperfectly it functions when it comes to protecting fighters.
NY1 for “How NYC Works: Food Rescue”
Roger Clark, Reporter. Davide Cannaviccio Producer & Photographer. Jessica Steiner, Producer; Dan Komarinetz, Editor Leisha Majtan, camera operator.
A delightful jaunt around New York with a delicious behind-the-scenes look at how City Harvest feeds the needy.
- TELEVISION PUBLIC SERVICE
“Pregnant and Addicted”
by Narmeen Choudhury, correspondent. Victor Lopez, photographer/editor.
Compelling personal stories of three women drug users who confront their addictions and the births of their methadone-affected babies while receiving treatment in a Lower East Side clinic and working toward becoming responsible parents.
“MetroFocus Special Report: The Eric Garner Decision”
Rafael Pi Roman and Jack Ford, anchors; Michael Hill, reporter. Sally Garner, executive producer/writer; Erica Zolberg, editorial producer; Andrea Vasquez, Marisa Wong, producers; Matthew Chao, associate producer; Ann Benjamin, director. Kirsti Itameri, multimedia producer; Sean McGinn, producer/editor; Kerry Soloway, editor; Christofer Nicoletti, production assistant; Diane Masciale, general manager, WLIW21; John Servidio, vice president of subsidiary stations
A thorough and thoughtful round-up of a big breaking story.
- RADIO BREAKING NEWS
“NYPD Officers Fatally Shot”
1010 WINS reporters delivered riveting coverage when two police officers were fatally shot by a gunman while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn
“Explosion in Harlem”
“A quick and comprehensive reaction to a big breaking news tragedy.”
- RADIO: NEWS FEATURE
“Outside the Lines and The Sporting Life: Roberts Rules”
Kelly Naqi, correspondent. William Weinbaum, producer. Robert O’Reilly, Justin Stokes, location sound mixers. Jason Sharkey, editor. Kelly Rohrer, production assistant. Carolyn Hong, coordinating producer. Rayna Banks, associate producer. Eric Lynch, assignment editor. Dwayne Bray, senior coordinating producer. Vince Doria, vice president of news.
A lively portrait of Michele Roberts, new head of the NBA players union. We learn she is charming, witty, bold, and dedicated to making certain that, in her words, “an institution this important and one that is predominantly African-American cannot be allowed to fail.”
“The Gem Vac Vets” by Wayne Cabot
Military veterans tell their stories on Veterans Day as a small group does every Tuesday at a little shop in New Jersey.
- ONLINE BREAKING NEWS
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com)
“East Harlem Explosion”
With digital bulletins, constant tweets, video, and overall mastery of social media, alongside print coverage, Journal reporters were all over the massive explosion that killed eight, collapsed two Park Avenue buildings and overturned countless lives.
Two Merit Awards:
“4-Year-Old Tortured Before Death Endured Nomadic Life Filled With Abuse”
Murray Weiss, James Fanelli, Janon Fisher
Fine pursuit of the reasons for the terrible unnecessary death of a four-year-old boy who slipped through the cracks of the social services network.
The Newsday staff produced excellent and exhaustive multi-media coverage of the shooting of two New York police officers in their patrol car.
- ONLINE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING/WEB EXCLUSIVE
“How Wall Street Tobacco Deals Left States With Billions in Toxic Debt”
“Tobacco Bond” Series by Cezary Podkul.
Building special data bases to probe the public records left by Wall Street bond deals built around scheduled payoffs from the national tobacco settlement of 1999, these meticulously researched stories were the first to document that nearly half the money no longer goes to benefit taxpayers. Instead, it’s being siphoned off to cover a multi-generational legacy of debt taken on by dozens of the governments involved – debt that some may never be able to repay. Apps built by Yue Qiu and Lena Groeger allow readers to track the financial effects of these bad deals county by county in New York State and elsewhere.
“Mayor’s Top Aide Hid Relationship With Convicted Felon” by Murray Weiss & James Fanelli.
Ongoing digging and consistent results about the relationships of the chief of staff for the First Lady of New York affected the running dispute between the Mayor and the police union leadership.
- ONLINE NEWS COMMENTARY
“Unaccountable Bureaucracy” and other columns by Susan Antilla
In these searing columns, Antilla highlights the anti-consumer sentiment that has taken hold of significant portions of the Republican Party as it attempts to dismantle agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she says “has broken new ground reining in sleazy debt collectors, slipshod mortgage servicers and banks.” In just two years, the agency has already handled 270,000 complaints from consumers and has returned almost $3 billion to them. She also critiques the soft-on-enforcement stance that appears to be the real posture of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Staff of The Record
The Record’s ongoing catalogue of the evolution of the George Washington Bridge scandal is the multi-media scorecard subscribers need to keep track of this cast of characters.”
- ONLINE PUBLIC SERVICE
ProPublica and National Public Radio
“Red Cross” by Jesse Eisinger & Justin Elliott, ProPublica; Laura Sullivan, NPR
The diligence of this reporting team paid off as it refused to accept the original opaque explanations from the Red Cross about how the relief organization spent hundreds of millions of dollars during its responses to Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac. As ProPublica/NPR concluded: “The Red Cross botched key elements of its mission after Sandy and Isaac, leaving behind a trail of unmet needs and acrimony, according to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR. The charity’s shortcomings were detailed in confidential reports and internal emails, as well as accounts from current and former disaster relief specialists. What’s more, Red Cross officials at national headquarters in Washington, D.C., compounded the charity’s inability to provide relief by “diverting assets for public relations purposes,” as one internal report puts it. Distribution of relief supplies, the report said, was “politically driven.”
Cash Crop: “Marijuana on Long Island and Across the United States”
Mandy Hofmockel, Thomas Maier, Saba Ali, Matthew Cassella, Timothy Healy and Newsday.com and Newsday Staffs
The complete package on marijuana on Long Island with text, photographs, videos, charts, maps and other interactive graphics, legal documents, etc.