From Unearthing Crime Here and Abroad
To Tackling Tales of Alien Abductions

Ralph Blumenthal

IN HIS 45 YEARS AS one of the top reporters at The New York Times, Ralph Blumenthal has covered subjects that range from the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia to the Tawana Brawley racial hoax, and from Nazi war criminals hiding in America to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. He has been a foreign correspondent reporting from West Germany and Vietnam; a national correspondent in Texas; a prize-winning investigative reporter in New York; and a member of the metro staff as well as a culture reporter.

Blumenthal has authored books that further reflect his wide range of interests. They include “Miracle at Sing Sing: How One Man Transformed the Lives of America’s Most Dangerous Prisoners,” a portrait of warden Lewis E. Lawes, and “Stork Club: America’s Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Café Society.”

For his latest book, Blumenthal found something completely new to write about, something literally out of this world. The book, just out, is “The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack,” the tale of John E. Mack, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist who evaluated the stories of men and women who claimed to have been temporarily abducted by extraterrestrial beings. (For the story behind the story of “The Believer,” there’s a piece by Blumenthal in the January issue of Silurian News.)

On Wednesday, March 17, Blumenthal, a long-time Silurian and a former member of the club’s Board of Governors, will be on hand via Zoom to talk to us about “The Believer” as well as the many subjects he’s covered for The Times, the only newspaper he’s ever worked for.

The date:   Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
The time:   Noon, via Zoom.
The place: Whatever device you use to access Zoom.

So please make sure to check your emails from Silurian president Michael Serrill for details on how to register.

Blumenthal actually began producing copy for The Times when he was still a student at City College of New York in the early ’60s. He was editor of The Campus, CCNY’s student paper, and managed to snag a job as a Times stringer. He graduated in 1963, continued his education at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and in 1964, was hired fulltime by The Times as a news clerk. Within months, he was appointed to the metro staff. In 1968, when he was 26, he was a foreign correspondent reporting from Bonn, West Germany, and writing about such matters as the Soviet incursion into Czechoslovakia, the rise of neo-Nazism and the economic boom in West Germany. In 1969, The Times sent Blumenthal to Saigon, from where he reported on the war in Vietnam and its spread to Cambodia.

He returned to New York in 1971, and became an investigative reporter who specialized in stories about foreign and American corruption and organized crime.  Among the highlights of his career: Being the lead reporter on the team that covered the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, bringing The Times a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage; being the first American reporter to learn of Kurt Waldheim’s secret Nazi past; co-authoring a series on fatal crashes by USAir, an effort that prompted new safety procedures, garnered a Pulitzer nomination, and earning Blumenthal the 1994 Worth Bingham prize for investigative journalism. His other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award.

Blumenthal joined the culture news department as an arts news reporter in 1994, winning a Times Publisher’s Award for co-writing a series on an antitrust scandal at Sotheby’s and Christie’s. He went to Houston in 2003 to cover the Southwest, reporting on death penalty cases, President George W. Bush’s military record, and a polygamous cult.

Blumenthal retired from The Times in 2009 and started teaching journalism in the summer program of Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H., in 2010. That same year, he was named a Distinguished Lecturer at Baruch College in New York, where he currently oversees historic collections in the college’s Newman Library Archives.

Calling All Journalists of Excellence:
Entries for the 2021 Silurian Awards
Accepted from Jan. 4 to March 8

Beginning on Monday, Jan. 4, the Silurians Press Club will begin accepting entries for its 2021 Excellence in Journalism Awards Competition. This will be the 76th annual competition, and according to Awards chairman Jack Deacy, it is the only journalism awards program exclusively honoring local news coverage for the New York City Metropolitan Area. The Silurians have been conducting this competition since 1945.

To enter, go to: https://silurians.submittable.com/submit

All entries must be received by Monday, March 8.

Founded In 1924 as the Society of the Silurians, the club — now known as the Silurians Press Club — is one of the oldest press clubs in the nation, an organization of more than 300 veteran New York-area men and women dedicated to excellence and integrity in journalism.

Questions regarding the competition should be directed to Silurians Awards Chair Jack Deacy at jackdeacy@gmail.com.

Following are the Competition Rules and the 15 Award Categories in which submissions may be entered.


• The entry fee for a media organization is $75 per submission, which must be paid at the time of entry.
• Individuals or freelancers may submit their own work for an entry fee of $25 per submission, which must be paid at the time of entry.
• All entries must have been published or broadcast during 2020.
• The subject matter of entries should pertain to New York and the Greater Tri-State area.
• No more than three entries can be submitted for each category by a single organization or an individual or freelancer. A series on one topic will be considered a single entry.
• Each entry should be labeled with its category number and be accompanied by a cover letter noting the entry’s importance or impact, and include the name of the author(s) and the submitter, their contact email addresses and phone numbers.
• Deadline: Entries must be received by Monday, March 8, 2021.


1. BREAKING NEWS (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
2. FEATURE NEWS (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
3. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
4. BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
5. SCIENCE, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
6. ARTS AND CULTURE REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
7. SPORTS REPORTING AND COMMENTARY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
8. EDITORIALS / COMMENTARY/ PUBLIC SERVICE (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
9. PEOPLE PROFILES (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
10. MINORITY AFFAIRS REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
11. BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
12. FEATURE NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
13. SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
14. BROADCAST JOURNALISM (Television: Breaking News/Feature News)
15. BROADCAST JOURNALISM (Radio: Breaking News/Feature News)


Michael S. Serrill Named President,
Joseph Berger Editor of Silurian News

Michael Serrill

MICHAEL S. SERRILL, A VETERAN journalist and former foreign editor, has been named the 72nd president of the Silurians Press Club, heading a new lineup of officers for the 2020-21 season. Serrill succeeds David A. Andelman, who returns to the Board of Governors following a sterling two-year term as president.

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A Dazzling Display of Journalistic Talent,
But If You Missed It, It’s All on YouTube

If you missed seeing the Silurians’ Excellence in Journalism Awards Gala, held on the evening of June 24, do not despair. And if you were there and can’t wait to see it again, there’s good news for you, too.

It’s available at this very moment on YouTube.

Simply click on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrpOT0NGIZ4&feature=youtu.be and settle back for a splendid 90-minute presentation of the Silurians’ 75th anniversary gala in which the best of New York City’s journalism was put on dazzling display.

It was virtual, but it was vibrant, and you will see every aspect of the gala evening, including:
• Tom Brokaw’s stirring keynote address on the role of a free press in today’s challenging climate.
• Comments from many of the evening’s winners, who revealed behind-the-scenes details of how their stories were put together.
• Excerpts of some of the prize-winning entries from print and broadcast media.
• The “passing of the gavel” from president David A. Andelman, who concluded a splendid two years in that role, to Michael Serrill, our incoming president.

The evening’s activities were presided over by Andelman and they put an emphatic exclamation point to his two years in office. Jack Deacy was again our Awards chairman, ably assisted by Silurians Aileen Jacobson, Allan Dodds Frank and Scotti Williston as well as our indefatigable intern, Ben Long.

For a complete list of individuals and news organizations that were honored with Medallions or Certificates of Merit, see story below.

2020 Silurians Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards

New York Times, Newsday Take Top Honors
At 75th Anniversary Awards Competition

A THREE-YEAR INVESTIGATION by Newsday that documented widespread housing discrimination on Long Island and an extraordinary photo essay by New York Times photographers that captured the excitement of a summer full of New York City block parties won The President’s Choice Awards — top honors in the 75th Anniversary Excellence In Journalism Awards conducted by the Silurians Press Club. The awards honored outstanding work in print, broadcast and digital media during 2019.

Newsday reporters and trained investigators spent three years uncovering evidence of widespread discriminatory treatment of home-hunting minorities by agents associated with the largest and best known residential brokerage companies on Long Island. Newsday’s 45,000 word, 16-part report found that agents accommodated white potential buyers but denied equal service to minorities, directing white and minority buyers to different neighborhoods and warning white buyers to avoid the schools in predominantly minority communities. The study found that black home buyers received disparate treatment by agents 49 percent of the time. For Hispanics, the rate was 39 percent and for Asians, 19 percent. The series, called “Long Island Divided,” included more than 35 video elements that ranged from undercover segments contrasting how agents treated white and minority home buyers to a 40-minute documentary, “Testing the Divide.” It told the story behind the story and placed the findings in the context of Long Island’s troubled racial history. The Newsday report generated action within days of publication from the highest levels of federal, state and county governments that led to significant reforms.

The New York Times also garnered a President’s Choice Award for its special photo and text essay, “The New York City Block Party.” During the summer of 2019, The Times dispatched 20 of its photographers to attend and record 65 block parties throughout the five boroughs. The result: an extraordinary series of photographs that captured the joy of New Yorkers celebrating their block and their neighbors with a day of food, music, dancing and camaraderie.

Presentation of the awards, originally planned for May 13 at New York’s National Arts Club, were postponed because of the coronavirus spread and are now scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at 7 p.m. Instead of a traditional dinner, the event will be “virtual,” conducted over Zoom. Tom Brokaw of NBC News will deliver the keynote address.

“This year’s Excellence in Journalism Awards come at a most challenging moment for our profession,” said David A. Andelman, president of The Silurians Press Club. ”In our first Zoom awards gala, it is our privilege to recognize an extraordinary collection of the best and brightest, paying tribute to all those who each day give so much of their talent and energy to keep us informed and in touch with our world.”

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