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.”

In the Breaking News category, The New York Times and The Record/northjersey.com each won Medallions. The Times won for J. David Goodman’s thorough coverage of Amazon’s abrupt cancellation of its plan to create a corporate campus in Queens. The judging panel called his piece “a model of deadline reporting, laying out in knowledgeable details the political, economic and community consequences of the Amazon decision.” The Record/northjersey.com earned a Medallion for its staff coverage of a wild, violent day in northern New Jersey that began with the killing of a police officer and was followed by the murder of a Hasidic couple gunned down in their kosher food store in Jersey City.

The City, a new non-profit online publication dedicated to coverage of New York City and launched by editor Jere Hester, walked off with two winning Medallions and a runner-up Merit Award in its debut season. Photographer Ben Fractenberg won in the Feature Photography category for his moving photo essay on the homeless who seek refuge in the city’s subway system. The City’s investigative team of Greg B. Smith, Josefa Velasquez and Yoav Gonen won the Medallion for Commentary for their in-depth coverage of the DeBlasio administration and their articles examining the New York Police Department’s record in confrontations with the mentally ill.

In addition to Breaking News, The Times won Medallions in four other categories. In Feature News Reporting, Andy Newman of The Times won for his series, “Risky Businesses,” his exploration of the little-known world of gig economy workers who toil for what in some situations amounts to mere nickels and dimes, alerting lawmakers and businesses to these conditions. Brian Rosenthal of The Times won the Medallion for Investigative Reporting for his five-part series that plumbed the depths of the predatory lending empires that exploit thousands of hard-working, largely immigrant cab drivers in New York, Chicago and elsewhere. The articles showed how squadrons of drivers were financially destroyed and who, in some cases, committed suicide after borrowing money to purchase over-priced taxi medallions.

Alex Vadukul, city correspondent for the Sunday New York Times Metropolitan section, was awarded two Medallions, one in the Arts and Culture category for his profile of a New York barber who blossomed into a serious painter. He also won in Sports Reporting and Commentary for his story about a New York pub owner who is also a world class ultramarathon runner as he prepares for his last ultramarathon, a four-day, 100-mile run between Belfast and Dublin in his native Northern Ireland.

In Business and Financial Reporting, Ann Marsh of Financial Planning narrated in vivid detail how JP Morgan presented fabricated testimony in an arbitration hearing for an adviser fired by its Chase Private Client Group. Her reporting provoked outrage by lawmakers and helped inspire legislation designed to protect whistleblowers and end mandatory arbitration.

A trio of reporters from The USA Today Network — Thomas C. Zambito of the Journal-News/lohud.com, Christopher Maag of The Record/northjersey.com and Amanda Oglesby of the Asbury Park Press — won the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Medallion for their intensively researched series about the planned decommissioning of dozens of the nation’s nuclear power plants, Wall Street’s grab of the $60 billion set aside for the teardowns and the safety concerns of the nearby communities.

In Breaking News Photography, the Medallion went to William Farrington of the New York Post for his exclusive photo of the body of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as he was being wheeled out of the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he had committed suicide hours earlier. In Television Breaking News, WABC Eyewitness News won for its 11 p.m. coverage of a shootout in a kosher food store in Jersey City. In Feature Television News, Walt Kane of News 12 New Jersey won for his reports on school bullying. In Radio Feature News, Juliana Schatz Preston’s podcast, “A Desperate Bargain,” for Type Investigations and Reveal, won the Medallion for a moving piece about parents of children with severe mental illness in Connecticut and how they were pressured to give up custody to the state so their children could receive residential treatment.

Natasha Lennard of The Intercept won the Medallion for Public Service Commentary for her commentaries that focused on how sexual misconduct and gender discrimination collided with New York State’s criminal justice system. In the Minority Affairs Reporting category, Will Van Sant and Victor Ramos of Newsday won a Medallion for “Climate of Fear,” their examination of issues confronting Latino communities on Long Island. Jesmyn Ward’s profile of author Ta-Nehisi Coates for Vanity Fair, which the judging panel described as “a richly satisfying, superbly written gem,” garnered the Medallion in the People Profiles category. And Alejandra Villa Loarca of Newsday won the Medallion for Sports Photography for her dramatic photo of Amaya Williams, a 17-year-old with prosthetic legs who plays on the Copiague High School basketball team.

The New York Times won six Medallions and three Merit (runner-up) awards,  Newsday won three Medallions and eight Merit awards, The Record/northjersey.com and The City each won two Medallions and one Merit award and the following media outlets each took home one Medallion: The Intercept, the New York Post, Vanity Fair, Type Investigations, the USA Today Network, WABC-TV Eyewitness News, News 12 New Jersey, and Financial Planning. Type Investigations won two Merit awards and the following outlets each won one Merit award: the New York Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, WFUV-FM Radio and Spectrum NY1 News.

The full list of Medallion and Merit awards follow:

PRESIDENT’S CHOICE AWARD
Welcome to the Party. The New York City Block Party
The New York Times Photography Staff

PRESIDENT’S CHOICE AWARD
Long Island Divided
The Newsday Staff

BREAKING NEWS (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media)
Medallion: “Amazon Pulls Out of Planned New York City Headquarters”
J. David Goodman, The New York Times
Medallion: “Jersey City Shooting”
Staff of The Record/northjersey.com
Merit: “Election Night In Queens”
Christine Chung and Josefa Velasquez, The City

FEATURE NEWS (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Risky Businesses”
Andy Newman, The New York Times
Merit: “Lovers in Auschwitz”
Keren Blankfeld, The New York Times
Merit: “In the Shadows”
Victor Ramos, Newsday

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Taken for A Ride”
Brian Rosenthal, The New York Times
Merit: “Conviction” and “Vigilante”
Saki Knafo, Type Investigations

BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “JP Morgan Chase’s Private Client Group Used False Evidence”
Ann Marsh, Financial Planning
Merit: “Stark Lessons From Wall Street’s #MeToo Movement”
Susan Antilla, Type Investigations
Merit: “Cantor Fitzgerald Doesn’t Want This Woman Talking About Her Mug In Court”
Max Abelson and Katia Porzecanski, Bloomberg Businessweek

SCIENCE, HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Nuclear Options”
The USA Today Network: Thomas C. Zambito, Journal-News/lohud.com; Christopher Maag, The Record/northjersey.com; Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press
Merit: “Delayed Childbirth Helps Push a Boom in Long Island’s Fertility Business”
David Reich-Hale, Newsday
“New Law Will Require More Coverage For IVF, Fertility Treatments”
Beth Whitehouse, Newsday
Merit: “Dumping Ground”
Paul LaRocco, Newsday

ARTS AND CULTURE REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “The Michelangelo of the Barber Shop”
Alex Vadukul, The New York Times

SPORTS REPORTING AND COMMENTARY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Irish Forrest Gump”
Alex Vadukul, The New York Times
Merit: “Verbal Abuse Blamed for Decline In Officials”
Jim Baumbach, Newsday

SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Unstoppable”
Alejandra Villa Loarca, Newsday
Merit: “Eli’s Retirement”
Anthony J. Causi, New York Post

PEOPLE PROFILES (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “The Beautiful Power”
Jesmyn Ward, Vanity Fair
Merit: “Keano Is N.Y.’s Most Famous and Mysterious Psychic. I Found Her.”
Sam Kestenbaum, The New York Times

EDITORIALS, COMMENTARY, PUBLIC SERVICE (Newspapers, News Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion/Public Service: “Natasha Lennard’s New York Reporting”
Natasha Lennard, The Intercept
Medallion/ Commentary: “The DeBlasio Files” and “The NYPD’s Mental Illness Breakdown”
Greg B. Smith, Josefa Velasquez, Yoav Gonen, The City
Merit/Commentary: Columns & Essays
Jim Dwyer, The New York Times

MINORITY AFFAIRS REPORTING (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Climate of Fear”
Victor Ramos and Will Van Sant, Newsday
Merit: “Alvarado Investigation Series”
Monsy Alvarado, The Record/northjersey.com

BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Jeffrey Epstein Suicide”
William Farrington, New York Post
Merit: “Tears for the Fallen”
Steve Pfost, Newsday
Merit: “Medal of Honor””
Alejandra Villa Loarca, Newsday

FEATURE NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY (Newspapers, News Wire Services, Online Media, Magazines)
Medallion: “Homeless Face an Elusive Refuge In the Subway”
Ben Fractenberg, The City
Merit: “The Big Chill” and “Spell Pressure”
Tom Ferrara, Newsday
Merit: “Commencement Day”
J. Conrad Williams Jr., Newsday

BROADCAST JOURNALISM (Television: Breaking News/Feature News)
BREAKING TV NEWS
Medallion: “Jersey City Shootout”
The Eyewitness News Team, WABC TV Eyewitness News/11 PM Broadcast

FEATURE TV NEWS
Medallion: “Kane In Your Corner: Bullied In School”
Walt Kane. News 12 New Jersey
Merit: “Going, Going, Gone: Forced Home Sales”
Lydia Hu, Spectrum NY 1

BROADCAST JOURNALISM (Radio: Breaking News/Feature News)
RADIO FEATURE NEWS
Medallion: “A Desperate Bargain” podcast
Juliana Schatz Preston, Type Investigations & Reveal
Merit: “Stonewall at 50: From Uprising to Gay Rights Movement”
George Bodarky & Student Reporting Staff, WFUV-FM

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