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TimesLedger wins five national news awards

The TimesLedger Newspapers won five awards for its 2002 coverage in an annual editorial contest sponsored by the Suburban Newspapers of America that draws entries from daily and weekly newspapers throughout North America.

The chain of 14 newspapers received recognition in five categories, including Best Breaking News, Best Environmental coverage, Best Local Election and Best Editorial Writing.

Dustin Brown, the reporter for the Astoria Times and the Ridgewood Ledger, won a third place award in the prestigious Suburban Journalist of the Year category.

Brown, who covers one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the nation, was recognized for his handling of stories on the changes transforming the western Queens neighborhoods.

“This was a real honor,” said publisher Steve Blank, who believes the diversity of the awards reflected the breadth of the newspaper group’s coverage. “Those are the things that are at the heart of a newspaper’s role in serving the community.”

He said this was the first year that the TimesLedger Newspapers had received five awards in the SNA contest.

“We’re demonstrating that the quality of coverage we’re providing here is as good as anywhere in the country,” Blank said.

The contest winners were selected by the American Press Institute in Reston, Va., said SNA spokeswoman Valerie Donn, who handled the entries.

The Jamaica Times won the first place Best Breaking News award for its Nov. 15, 2001 issue’s coverage of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Belle Harbor seconds after it took off from Kennedy Airport on Nov. 12, 2001. The paper was cited for a package of eight stories written by the TimesLedger staff.

The Jamaica Times also won second place in the Best Environmental Coverage category for an entry called the “Jamaica Water Series.”

Reporter Courtney Dentch covered the ongoing debate on whether to reopen water wells that the surrounding community feared contained toxic pollutants and documented the ways in which city residents were coping with the summer drought. The series also included more than 10 stories that followed the progress of a city study on plans to clean up two polluted, inactive wells in Jamaica.

The Flushing Times won second place in the Best Local Election Coverage category.

The entry included articles on the Queens races for borough president and City Council, with a particular focus on the campaign of Flushing resident John Liu, who became the first Asian American elected to office in New York City.

The Bayside Times won second place in the Best Editorial Writing category for several editorials, including “Who is a minority?” on the decision by City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) to join the body’s Black and Hispanic Caucus even though he is white. His mother is Cuban.

The awards were given to the TimesLedger Newspapers for works published between October 2001 and October 2002. The competition includes 27 categories. Winners are selected based on their circulation class and whether the newspapers are published daily or weekly.

SNA, whose headquarters are in Michigan, runs the contest for members and non-members for more than 2,000 newspapers in the United States and Canada.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156

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