By Leah S. Dunaief
Consider this a big Thank You card.
First, thank you to the New York Press Association for awarding us 17 prizes in their annual Better Newspaper Contest for 2019. Please check them out in the Arts and Lifestyles section of today’s paper or read about it on the web. These awards are normally given out at the spring convention up in Saratoga Springs in March for work done during the preceding year. But we know that there is nothing normal about 2020, and so the good news arrived this past week via — you guessed it — the internet. The physical prizes, wood plaques and certificates, will follow at some future time, but the news of the winners was flashed to us digitally.
The purpose of the contest is twofold: to honor the winners and to help improve the more than 400 weekly and small daily newspapers across the state with examples of good work for the membership to view. It is indeed an honor to be selected by our peers, who are the judges, and we deeply appreciate the recognition.
There is a third consequence of the awards: bragging rights. We are able to share with our communities, whom we serve, the peer-reviewed quality of our efforts. We can do our jobs because you, our readers and advertisers, support us. So please accept this as a report card of sorts, along with our deepest appreciation for your continuing faith in us. We do our best to bring you the latest news and issues in the towns and villages we cover in an honest and unbiased fashion.
We also serve as a sounding board for opinions and analyses, clearly labelled as such. We enable others to have bragging rights too, for their family members and community groups and even pets, by proudly printing their accomplishments. And we like to amuse and entertain you with contests, beautiful photos and interesting stories just for the fun of it. The bottom line there is, Thank You to our communities.
I would like to call your attention to the nature of our awards. We consider our job to be publishing both editorial and advertising content, the two together making up the news and our primary focus. So I am pleased to note that half of our prizes are for editorial excellence and the other half for advertising effectiveness. And for this distinction, I thank our talented staff and salute their commitment, especially during these times of few numbers both in the newsroom and in the art, production and sales departments.
And of course, we have to have the support of the business office to maintain our company and the circulation people to pick up the papers in the middle of the night and get them to the post offices and the newsstands in time for you to read them with the rest of your mail on publishing day.
But even as our staff numbers have shrunk, their work has increased. For we are no longer a weekly newspaper group but a daily and hourly news source, thanks to the internet. We have brought you daily briefings and news stories about the various aspects of COVID-19 since March, along with other news scoops, breaking news and advertising — all for the most part in addition to the content in the newspapers — on our website and also on our social media platforms. This enormous effort was made possible by our overworked and underpaid staff.
So a heartfelt and deeply appreciated Thank You to the following, by departments: Kyle Barr, Rita J. Egan, Heidi Sutton, David Luces, Donna Deedy, John Broven, Ernestine Franco, Bea Ruberto and Daniel Dunaief in Editorial.
To Kathleen Gobos, Kathryn Mandracchia, Elizabeth Bongiorno, Robin Lemkin, Minnie Yancy, Jackie Pickle and Katherine Yamaguchi in display sales.
To Sheila Murray, Ellen Segal and Joann Brady in Classifieds. To Beth Heller-Mason, Janet Fortuna, Sharon Nicholson and Lauren Vohrer in Art and Production, and to Courtney Biondo in Legals and her team in Circulation.
To Sandi Gross, Meg Malangone, Diane Wattecamps and Cathie Kitz in Business. To Sheila Murray again in Business and Subscriptions. To Rob Alfano, for Internet Strategy. And to Johness Kuisel, our General Manager, who is everywhere. Please all take a bow.