Back to Work We Go — But First, Some Back-Patting!

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | From subways to congestion pricing to taking control of development around the Penn Station area, your hard-working friends here at Chelsea Now rightly (and righteously) chafe at being told what to do by a certain guy in Albany — but we fold like a load of dryer-hot laundry when folks in the New York State Capitol tell us we’ve won an award.

That was the pleasant scenario last weekend, when the New York Press Association (NYPA) held its annual convention, the highlight being a series of ceremonies announcing the winners of the 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.

Chelsea Now and its NYC Community Media sister publications (Gay City News, The Villager, Downtown Express) were recognized for excellence, as were publications from our sister company, Community News Group (the companies are owned, respectively, by Jennifer and Les Goodstein).

Strong visuals and a forceful headline from our issue marking the one-year anniversary of the Chelsea bombing contributed to its win in the Special Sections and Best Front Page categories. | Page design by John Napoli

Newspapers throughout the state competed, with the same awards given in several divisions. Keep that in mind as we go through the list, because we’re not going to bore you with the specifics of what comprises a division (long story short, they’re broken down according to circulation size). So, without further delay, on to the shameless back-patting promised by this article’s headline.

Headlines, you say? Chelsea Now Editor Scott Stiffler was given (he’s far too modest to say “earned”) the third place award for Headline Writing. “Smart headlines through and through,” said the judge, of the five news and arts headlines submitted. “Subheadlines explained the pithy headline,” the judge also observed. Two examples of that: “Paradise Lost: Garden of Eden Cast Out of Chelsea by Changing Times” was the print version headline referencing Dusica Sue Malesevic’s article about the closing of a longtime market on W. 23rd St. (our website headlines sometimes differ). For Winnie McCroy’s article chronicling tenants dealing with the lack of a crucial utility, Stiffler penned the headline, “Chilly Scenes of a Hot Plate Thanksgiving: Tenants Talk Turkey About Living in Buildings Without Cooking Gas.” Our CNG sister publication, The Brooklyn Paper, earned the first place honor in this very same category. Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli, Deputy Editor Anthony Rotunno, and Art Director Leah Mitch shared the honor, with the judge calling their work “punchy, descriptive, on-point.” Adding to the prestige: Headline Writing is a state-wide award, not broken down into divisions.

Three Chelsea Now freelance contributors picked up their very first NYPA win. Photographer Christian Miles was awarded second place in the Picture Story category, for his Fleet Week images taken in Times Square and the area around the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. “Nice variety and great topic,” wrote the judge.

Christian Miles’ look at Fleet Week earned him a second place win in the Picture Story category.

Longtime Chelsea Hotel resident Gerald Busby was part of the five-person team who contributed to this newspaper’s second place win in the Coverage of the Arts category, for his piece written in advance of a Film Society of Lincoln Center screening of Robert Altman’s “3 Women” (Busby composed the music). Also sharing in that win: Sean Egan, for his profile of Matt Butler, a Chelsea resident whose solo debut album, “Reckless Son,” was informed by his addiction and recovery. “It’s nice to read about an artist overcoming adversity to succeed,” said the judge. Also sharing in the win: Stiffler, for an entry in his “Just Do Art” column, which features local arts events; Rania Richardson, for her profile of YouTube Space (a production facility located in Chelsea Market); and Stephanie Buhmann, for her look at the Whitney Biennial.

Buhmann was also honored when Downtown Express took home the first place award for Coverage of the Arts (for her critique of an exhibit at the 56 Henry gallery). Others who contributed to that win were Trav S.D. (writing about the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene), arts section editor Stiffler (for another “Just Do Art” column), Charles Battersby (for a preview of virtual reality offerings at the Tribeca Film Festival), and Puma Perl (profiling a tattoo exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum). Of Perl’s article, the judge wrote, “Loved the story on tattoos, especially compelling.”

Max Burbank, who has been our political satirist since the 2016 presidential primaries, holds nothing back in his decidedly unfavorable view of the man we currently must refer to as President Donald J. Trump. But his barbs are not limited to mere words. Burbank’s columns also feature his hand-drawn illustrations, which often serve as their own form of stand-alone commentary. For this, he earned first place, Editorial Cartooning — for the December 2017 column, “Happy Holidays From the Moral High Ground,” in which he depicted two Republican presidents as characters from a beloved Dickens classic. “I felt the use of Donald Trump and Richard Nixon as Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley was very appropriate for this point in time,” wrote the judge. In the same category, The Brooklyn Paper took second place, and The Villager was awarded third place. Bonus fact for our conspiracy-minded readers: Trump was a visual reference in each of the three winning cartoons. We swear it wasn’t a coordinated effort!

Chelsea Now’s coverage marking the one-year anniversary of September 17, 2016’s bombing of W. 23rd St., and attempted bombing of W. 27th St., was recognized for its “strong content and photos,” which were used to “tell the story. Beginning, middle and end were well thought out,” wrote the judge, who gave this coverage first place in the category of Special Sections/Niche Publications. The 12-page section featured a timeline review of the bombing and its aftermath (compiled by Stiffler and drawing upon three week’s worth of coverage in 2016, that part of the section featured photos by, among others, Daniel Kwak, Zach Williams, and Tequila Minsky). Elsewhere in the section, Dusica Sue Malesevic wrote about the work of first responders from the NYPD, FIT, and Penn South on the night of the bombing; Sean Egan compiled a timeline about the search, capture, and charges against the bombing suspect; Eileen Stukane revisited the small businesses she first wrote about in 2016 that were impacted by the closure of W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves.; and then-Councilmember (now Speaker) Corey Johnson (who was in the area when the explosion happened) recalled his interactions that night with area residents, law enforcement, the FDNY, and, through a series of informative tweets, the world.

The first page from that section contributed to a third place win for Best Front Page, an honor shared by Stiffler and Chelsea Now’s Art Director, John Napoli (who’s responsible for every aspect of this publication’s design and layout). The judge noted that “strong art” (i.e., dynamic photos and Napoli’s placement techniques) “separated this entry from others.” In addition to Headlines, this was a category in which we were recognized alongside a CNG sister publication. In this case, the Bay Ridge Courier won first place. Editor Vince DiMiceli and Deputy Editor Bill Egbert (who also serves as Editor of Downtown Express) were commended for their “strong headlines supported by good art.”

Other publications in our company were given much-deserved recognition for their excellence. Bay Ridge Courier reporters Julianne Cuba and Julianne McShane earned second place for their coverage of the heated race to replace term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile, which included in-depth interviews with all the candidates. McShane and former Bay Ridge reporter Caroline Spivack, who is now with the New York Post, won an honorable mention for their stories about an oil spill in Gravesend Bay.

There was a tie for first place in the category of Best Obituaries, shared by The Villager and Gay City News. The Villager took home both first and second place for Best Column, with Gay City News finishing third in that category.

Editor Lincoln Anderson, of The Villager, was recognized with a first place win for Editorials. “This is a publication that is plugged into its community and is taking active stands on issues,” the judge declared, noting The Villager is “driving momentum” on those issues and having “impact.” The Villager was also recognized with honorable mentions for Best News or Feature Series as well as the prestigious Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting. The Villager’s Michele Herman and Carl Rosenstein won, respectively, first and second place in the Best Column category.

Gay City News Editor Paul Schindler shared a third page win for Best Editorial Page, along with regular contributors Kelly Cogswell, Susan Day, Nathan Riley, and Ed Silkov. “Biting commentary from a clearly identified standpoint that represents its readership” is what the judge noted, calling the writing “thoughtful and highly informative.” Cogswell was also awarded third place in the Best Column category. Also included in the wins for Gay City News: second place for Overall Design Excellence, recognizing the work of Marcos Ramos and Schindler. The “good use of space and color,” noted the judge, “draws you in as a reader.”

We’re enormously proud of these honors, grateful for the talent and dedication of Chelsea Now’s freelancers, and in constant awe when it comes to our NYC Community Media and Community News Group colleagues. Now let’s all get back to work, lest we rest on our laurels and have nothing to show for it next year!

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