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TimesLedger takes top prizes in N. America news contest

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Competing in a field of about 2,000 newspapers from across North America, the Bayside-based TimesLedger was once again recognized. In the past three years, the chain of 16 newspapers has collected 15 awards from SNA for outstanding news coverage that matters to local readers. This year first-place awards were given to the TimesLedger for best opinion column, which was written by Flushing resident George Tsai, best editorial page, and best coverage of local business and economic news. "It's a great honor," said Tsai, who writes about the Asian community in the borough. "I'm very happy to have won and I'm going to work harder to create more good stuff for Flushing and Queens."One of Tsai's award-winning columns followed the defeat of an incumbent Democratic assemblyman by an Asian newcomer in the primary."It would be incomprehensible just five years ago that an Asian could have any chance of winning a seat in the state Legislature," Tsai wrote.One of the editorials that won dealt with Queens politicians' reactions to new immigration policies announced by the Bush administration. It said U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D- Bayside) and City Councilman John Liu (D- Flushing), who blasted the new policy, should "do their homework" before they knock the president's plan. The May 27 and June 3 issues of the Jamaica Times were singled out for coverage of local business and economic news. The issues included stories on how development in Jamaica was hindered by crime rates, the impact of rising gas prices on Queens residents and businesses, and a lease snafu that kept discount airline JetBlue from relocating its headquarters to the downtown hub.Jackson Heights and Woodside Times reporter James DeWeese won second place in the best breaking news category for his story about a tiger that had escaped from a circus, running wild down the Jackie Robinson Parkway in the center of Queens before being caught."I'm honored to have won the award, but let's be honest: It's hard to top a circus tiger running loose on a major highway," said DeWeese. "Only in Queens." A third-place prize was awarded to the Bayside Times for its coverage of the 40th anniversary of the World's Fair in Queens. The landmark event took place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where remnants of the 1964 extravaganza can still be seen in the area today."I'm very pleased," said Steve Blank, TimesLedger publisher. "This demonstrates that not only are we the best weekly in Queens but in the U.S. and Canada as well." Blank said the 16 newspapers in the chain have balanced writing and reporting in all their coverage."We've displayed excellence in all areas, opinion, reporting, and special sections," said Blank.The awards were given to the TimesLedger Newspapers for works published between October 2003 and October 2004. The competition includes 27 categories and winners are selected based on their circulation class and whether they are published weekly or daily.Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 173

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