‘Plugged in’ Villager wins 7 NYPA awards in newspaper contest

On the strength of its editorials, columns, obituaries, in-depth reporting, and news and feature writing, The Villager racked up a total of seven awards in the New York Press Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.

The plaques and certificates, recognizing outstanding journalism done during last year, were handed out at NYPA’s spring convention in Albany last weekend. The entries were judged earlier this year by members of the Michigan Press Association.

The Villager took home first place in the prestigious category of Editorials. Written by Lincoln Anderson, The Villager’s editor in chief, the three submitted editorials included “Frozen out,” calling on the city’s Rent Guidelines Board to give a rollback (a rent reduction) to rent-regulated tenants, arguing this was justified based on past undeserved rent increases: “Must try suing,” supporting the takeover of the Elizabeth St. Garden by a new group committed to suing to stop the city’s plan to build affordable housing there; and “Protect the path” — written the day after the terror attack on the Hudson River bikeway — urging the state Department of Transportation to ensure that motor vehicles could no longer continue to drive onto the path.

“Numerous entries had strong takes and tremendous writing,” the judge for this category wrote, “but what separated this entry from the others was the action taken afterward. This is a publication that is plugged into its community and is taking active stands on issues, that is driving momentum behind that position. These editorials had impact.”

Richard Hambleton, Downtown’s “Shadowman.” Photo by Clayton Patterson

The Villager won first place for Best Obituaries, for one on Morton St. artist / photographer / activist Judy Seigel, by former longtime Villager staff reporter Albert Amateau, and another one on Richard Hambleton, the enigmatic “Shadowman” street artist, by Anderson.

The Hambleton “obit” included an arresting photo by Clayton Patterson of the artist peering into the camera, while clutching a beer. The one on Seigel included a photo of her holding an oversized print of one of her shots of pimps and hustlers in Times Square in the 1980s.

“Riveting, powerful, raw, real and messy — these obituaries do justice to the fact that death, like life, is anything but sanitary and neat,” the judge for these entries wrote in his or her comments. “Well researched and written — and great choice of photos.”

(In fact, The Villager tied for first place for Best Obituaries with its sister paper Gay City News, which submitted obits on gay-marriage trailblazer Edie Windsor and legendary newsman Jimmy Breslin.)

Michele Herman was the clear first-place winner for Best Column.

The Villager nearly swept Best Columns, with Michele Herman winning first place, and Carl Rosenstein a.k.a. “The Angry Buddhist” snagging second.

Herman’s three columns included interviews of Villagers displaced by fires, soccer players in East River Park trying to save the life of a heart attack victim, and an in-depth look at retail’s plight on Christopher and Bleecker Sts.

This category’s judge said of Herman’s pieces, “Firmly rooted in local interest, the columns displayed the sense that the writer was willing to dive into the community, talk with anyone and everyone and distill [it all] into something with meaning — delightfully local, thoughtful collecting of expertise. … Great writing, great voice with high impact.”

“The Angry Buddhist” took offense at the Trump “Nail-a-thon,” calling it a “Lord of the Flies”-like hatefest.

Meanwhile, Rosenstein’s three columns included ones on the Trump wooden blockhead “Nail-a-thon” by artist Sandra Koponen in Tompkins Square Park, which the writer condemned as hateful; activist Linda Sarsour — who Rosenstein called out as a female-genital-mutilation defender — ironically being invited to speak at the CUNY School of Public Health’s commencement; and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler’s and Senator Chuck Schumer’s ongoing failure to rebalance the one-way toll on the Verrazano Bridge that clogs Downtown Manhattan’s street with traffic.

“Another strong, distinctive voice, aimed at having a local impact,” the judge wrote. “I may have disagreed with some of his opinions, but good writing and well-thought-out theses kept me reading.”

Villager Editor Anderson also won honorable mention for Best News or Feature Series for his articles on comic-turned-radio journalist Randy Credico and his alleged role in so-called “Russiagate”; Credico was fingered by G.O.P. operative Roger Stone as the “back channel” between Stone and Julian Assange, in WikiLeaks’ publishing of e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

“This is a fun story built around a strange episode,” the judge noted.

Villager “two-way” photographer / reporter Tequila Minsky and Anderson teamed up to win honorable mention in the inaugural Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting, named for The Villager’s editor during the 1990s.

Tequila Minsky’s profile of Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, helped The Villager win honorable mention for the Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting. Photo by Tequila Minsky

The Villager’s entries were a package on immigration during the time of Trump, with Minsky doing a profile of Village-based New Sanctuary Coalition activist Ravi Ragbir, plus a report on a ceremony at Judson Memorial Church at which an illegal immigrant’s electronic ankle monitor was cut off. Anderson’s contribution was an in-depth article on the impact of Trump’s “travel ban” on foreign Muslim students at N.Y.U. and his crackdown on undocumented students and the call for N.Y.U. to become a “sanctuary campus.”

The judge for the Butson Award wrote, “These articles put a local face on a national issue through some aggressive reporting and strong interviews.”

New York University students rallying last March in support of the Village university becoming a “sanctuary campus” amid the escalating fear of deportations under President Trump. N.Y.U. said it already was a sanctuary campus. Photo by Tequila Minsky

Ira Blutreich won third place for Editorial Cartoon for his take on Trump’s response to the slogan “Not my president.”

“I know…it seems too good to be true,” a smug Trump is shown shrugging.

“Amusing use of hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil and Trump’s ability to let things roll off his back,” the judge said.

A total of 156 newspapers submitted nearly 2,800 entries for NYPA’s Better Newspaper Contest. The Villager earned a total of 75 points in editorial categories, good enough to finish in the top 10 newspapers — in a tie for ninth place.

In addition, NYC Community Media — which also includes Gay City News, Downtown Express and Chelsea Now — finished fourth over all in New York State in total contest points among group or chain newspapers.

The Villager’s awards were just seven of 24 taken home by the paper’s parent company NYC Community Media and Community News Group and, which together make up New York State’s most-read local news publishers.

Other awards by the company included:

 

Gay City News:

• First place for Best Obituaries.

• Second place for Overall Design Excellence.

• Second place for its Special Holiday Section (for Gay Pride special section)

• Third place for Best Editorial Page.

• Third place for Best Column.

 

Chelsea Now:

• First place for Editorial Cartoon

• First place for Special Sections (A look back at the 23rd St. terrorist bombing on its first anniversary).

• Second place for Picture Story.

• Second place for Coverage of the Arts.

• Third place for Best Headlines.

• Third place for Best Front Page.

 

Downtown Express:

• First place for Coverage of the Arts.

 

Brooklyn Paper:

• First place for Best Headlines.

• Second place for Editorial Cartoon.

 

Bay Ridge Courier:

•  First place for Best Front Page

• Second Place for Coverage of Elections and Politics

• Honorable mention for Coverage of the Environment

 

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