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TimesLedger newspapers win 34 state awards

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The TimesLedger Newspapers won 34 awards in the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for 2002, including nine first-place awards for categories ranging from in-depth reporting to overall excellence.

The honors, announced last weekend at the association’s annual awards ceremony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., were the most ever received by the Queens chain, which has 14 newspapers.

“We have a talented, committed staff dedicated to doing the best job of covering the communities of Queens,” said TimesLedger publisher Steven Blank. “I’m ecstatic.”

From around New York state, 183 newspapers submitted 3,621 entries for awards in 62 categories.

Alexander Dworkowitz, 23, a reporter for the TimesLedger’s Flushing Times and Whitestone Times, was named 2002 Rookie of the Year by the press association.

The Yale graduate, who covered a high-profile drug case and the Wendy’s massacre trial last fall, also took a first place for his coverage of crime, police and the courts.

“Alex Dworkowitz is an excellent reporter who leaves no stone unturned in looking for stories that have a great impact on the ethnically diverse communities that he covers so well,” said Roz Liston, managing editor of the TimesLedger.

TimesLedger reporter Courtney Dentch, former staffer Kathianne Boniello and contributor Philip Newman won a first-place award for in-depth reporting on the AirTrain project in southeast Queens.

Dentch also won a first-place award for her crime and courts coverage, with stories about a 12-year-old drug mule and a news cameraman found dead in his car.

Reporter Dustin Brown won first place for spot news coverage of a Maspeth murder-suicide, another blue ribbon for a story in the local government category about the cleanup of a toxic site in western Queens and a top prize for news story with a report on a Springfield Gardens hostage crisis.

The Forest Hills Ledger also won first place for the Past Presidents’ Award, which recognizes general excellence in a newspaper. “Very straight-forward, hard news coverage; a city newspaper throughout,” the judges wrote.

The paper snagged another first-place award for the best front page.

Second-place winners were the Fresh Meadows Times for overall design excellence, the Bayside Times for coverage of local government and small space ad, the Jamaica Times for spot news, headline writing and news story and the Richmond Hill Times for coverage of crime and the courts.

TimesLedger columnist Alex Berger won second place for his weekly “Berger’s Burg.”

In third place were the Bayside Times for its editorial page, crime coverage and small space ad, the Astoria Times for business coverage and feature story, the Flushing Times for news story, the Richmond Hill Times for spot news and coverage of religion and the Jamaica Times for election coverage.

Boniello took a third-place award in the in-depth reporting category for a series on community facilities in northeast Queens.

The Bayside Times received a third-place award for sports coverage by Anthony Bosco and Dylan Butler.

“High school and college, these guys do it all ... and do it right,” the judges said.

Receiving honorable mentions were the Jamaica Times for overall excellence as a newspaper, the Forest Hills Ledger for its editorial page, the Astoria Times for education coverage, the Whitestone Times for obituaries, and the Bayside Times for special sections and small space ad.

Contest entries were judged in January by members of the Illinois Press Association in Naperville, Ill.

Points were assigned for each award given by the Illinois judges. The TimesLedger came in third in total contest points after the S.I. Communications Group in Scarsdale and the Messenger-Post Newspapers in Rochester.

“I take a great deal of pride in comparing so favorably to the best papers in New York state,” Blank said.

The Queens Chronicle won four awards in the special section cover, historical­/anniversary and large ad campaign categories. The Queens Courier won an honorable mention in the sports feature category, and the Queens Tribune won awards in the editorial cartoon, advertising special sections and house advertisement categories.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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