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NYPA awards

Steven Zaitz won first place in the Spot News Photo category for this picture which was featured on the cover of The Village Times Herald on Nov. 5, 2020

By Heidi Sutton

From news articles and feature stories to photography, special supplements and classifieds, Times Beacon Record News Media raked in 10 awards, including three for first place, from the New York Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The winners were announced during NYPA’s annual, and this year’s virtual Spring Conference on April 8 and 9. Over 150 newspapers competed for awards in 64 categories. 

Editor Julianne Mosher won third place in the News Story category for her article titled “Local pharmacies concerned over Amazon Pharmacy.” The judge wrote, “Well done, with good interviews that give the reader the complete picture.” Mosher also won third place in the Feature Story category for “Local dance studios change shape in the age of COVID.”

“This story shows the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented the judge. “It may not be about health care workers, but it told a story of resilience on the part of businesses and young people looking to have some sense of normalcy.”

Photo by Steven Zaitz

Former editor Kyle Barr also did well, winning first place in the Feature Story category with his article, “History of Pride: LI’s first LGBT march reveals history of fighting prejudice.” The judge commented, “This piece was extremely well done and not only covered the history of the event, but brought the emotions of it to the forefront.” Barr also received an honorable mention in the News Story category for his article “Bars/restaurants on north shore struggle to comply with restrictions.”

Reporter Daniel Dunaief won second place in the Feature Story category for his piece, “Health care workers become critical partners in viral battles,” which honored local health care workers who put themselves in harm’s way to offer comfort, cures and solutions for COVID-19. The judge wrote, “This story brought us the stories of health care heroes that have been so important in all of our communities this past year.”

Freelance photographer Steven Zaitz won first place in the Spot News Photo category for an emotional image captured at a Trump rally last October.“The moment that tells the whole story. Great shot to sum up all sides and be fair to all points,” commented the judge.


Zaitz also won third place in the Sports Feature Photo category. The image, which was featured in the article, “Let’s Play Two: Little League Holds Championship Games,” impressed the judge. “In our state (of Pennsylvania), it’s no longer allowed to tank the catcher. If the same is true in New York, at least this little guy got as much as he could out of his illegal action. The determined catcher’s expression completes the scene.” for an image that was featured in the article, “Let’s play two: little league holds championship games.” 

TBR News Media won first place in the Best Public Service or Non-Profit Special Section for its 2020 Graduation supplement. “What a fantastic section to put together for Senior Class, their families, and the community during a pandemic. Outstanding work!” gushed the judge. The paper won second place in the Innovative Ad Project category for its TBR Artist Coloring Book which the judges said was a “great idea to get the readers to interact with newspapers and doing a contest.” 

The paper also won second place in the Classified Advertising category. “This newspaper has created a classified section that does not feel overbearing or overcrowded. With judicial use of space and bolded type, the section is easy to read,” wrote the judge.

“We are, of course, thrilled to continue our winning ways in the annual New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest,” said Publisher Leah Dunaief. “But some things must be said particularly for this year’s performance. First, as always, we feel so privileged for the chance to serve the community with our newspapers, website and social media. We are grateful for the support of both readers and advertisers in every season and especially now, during this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have struggled to fulfill our mission of publishing relevant news and information.”

“The staff and I have drawn inspiration from the people who live and work in the community. They have tirelessly delivered food, provided health care and ensured that everyone endured through a health and economic challenge we have never before seen but are now confronting. We have been deeply moved by the willingness to help each other that we have witnessed in order to get to a safer tomorrow. And finally, blessings on all our clearly talented staff members, without whose Herculean efforts we could not prevail.”

NYPA holds the Better Newspaper Contest each year during their spring conference. For a full list of winners and more information, visit nynewspapers.com.


2nd Place winner for Spot News Photo by Kyle Barr

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah 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.

The cover of the first issue of The Village Times in 1976 by Pat Windrow

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This is a week of celebrations, and it gives me great pleasure to share them with you, our readers. First is the delightful news that Times Beacon Record newspapers won 12 awards for outstanding work over the past year from the New York Press Association this past weekend.

The convention was in Albany, and we loved hearing our names called out before a group of more than 300 attendees from weeklies and dailies, paid papers and free, representing communities throughout New York state. The prizes are listed elsewhere in the paper, and I am particularly pleased that they span the two primary responsibilities we carry: good editorial coverage and attractive advertising. Those are our two masters, and we need to serve both well in order to survive.

Speaking of surviving, a major part of the convention and its workshops was concerned with just that. As most of you know, newspapers — and the media across the board — are engaged in a gigantic struggle. Small businesses, long the backbone of community newspapers like ours, are falling by the wayside. Consumers are buying from Amazon and Google. It’s so easy to toddle over to a computer in one’s pajamas and order up Aunt Tillie’s birthday present, have it wrapped and delivered in no time at all, and perhaps even save some money in the transaction. Only small stores with highly specialized product for sale can compete. Or else they offer some sort of fun experience in their shops, making a personal visit necessary. And it’s not only small stores that are disappearing. Stores like Lord & Taylor — “a fortress on Fifth Avenue,” according to The New York Times — are also gone, directly impacting publications like that esteemed paper.

But that is only one existential threat to media. The other is the drumbeat of fake news. The internet and social media have been significantly discredited as news sources. Cable television hasn’t done much better in the public’s regard. Print, which has always been considered the most reliable source of fact-based news, mainly because it takes longer to reach the readers and is vetted by editors and proofers, can be dismissed with a wave of the hand and the accusation, “Fake news!” 

On the other hand, polls show that print is still the most trusted source. And that is particularly true for hometown newspapers, where reporters and editors live among those they write about and have to answer to them in the supermarket and at school concerts.

Which brings me to my next cause for celebration. Monday, April 8, marked the 43rd anniversary of the founding of The Village Times, which began the Times Beacon Record expansion. We were there in 1976, we are here in 2019, and I believe a good measure of success is simply survival. We are still just as committed to the high ideals of a free press — carrying those ideals and passion to our website and any other of our other platforms and products — as we were that day of wild exhilaration when our first issue was mailed to our residents. We will remain so in the future with the support of the communities we serve.

There is one other happy occasion this week. My oldest grandchild, Benji, is celebrating his birthday. When Benji was born, 24 years ago, I became a grandmother. This is, as we know, a club one cannot join on one’s own. One needs a grandchild to be admitted to this lovely existence. And in addition to the joy of watching him grow up into an honorable and talented young man, I have the exceptional pleasure of working with him as he goes about his chosen career of making quality films. It was he who directed and helped write our historical movie, “One Life to Give,” and now its sequel, “Traitor.” It is he who will be the first of our family’s next generation to graduate from college next month.

I am writing this column on the eve of your birthday, Benji. Happy Birthday, Dear Grandson! And I salute your parents for letting you follow your heart.