Some Actually Like Our Ludicrously Long Headlines And, Also, All That Awesome Alliteration
BY SCOTT STIFFLER | It’s not often we contemplate leaving the comfy confines of Chelsea. Indeed, venturing anywhere beyond this particular patch of our beloved borough requires a really good reason — and we can cite at least one.
Over the weekend, our publishers, editors, designers, and sales force made the trek upstate to attend the New York Press Association’s annual spring convention. There, in comparatively sleepy yet strangely soothing Saratoga Springs — between bouts of cocktail hour shoptalk and thought-provoking seminars — the Better Newspaper Contest winners were announced. Dozens upon dozens of ink-and-paper mom-and-pops submitted nominations in categories covering layout, advertising design, editorial content, and photography — all judged by our peers (this year, from North Carolina).
Chelsea Now and its NYC Community Media sister publications (Gay City News, The Villager, Downtown Express) were recognized for excellence, as were publications from our sister company, Community News Group (the companies are owned, respectively, by Jennifer and Les Goodstein).
Chelsea Now won a Division 3 First Place award for Best Front Page. It was a combined win for editor Scott Stiffler, photographers Richard Hillman and Daniel Kwak, and the paper’s longtime Senior Designer, Michael Shirey (who recently left NYC Community Media to work in the nonprofit sector). The judge’s note read, “Strong content, great photos, nice layout. Well done.”
Editor Scott Stiffler won First Place for Headline Writing (a statewide category cutting across all divisions). “Chelsea Now said its headlines used literary references and alliteration,” wrote the judge based on our submission letter, “which made the headlines fun. It was mostly easy to catch the meanings. The headlines also were accurate, succinct and creative.” This paper has occasionally received lukewarm to hostile feedback for its extremely long headlines and all-too-often invocation of alliteration — but the validation we’ve received from this award ensures you’ll be swooning at, or suffering through, that style for the foreseeable future (and far beyond). And why not? Only the coldest heart would be hard-pressed to feel the love for our prize-winning doozies, among them: “Such Sweet Sorrow: Romeo Parting With West 22nd Street” (about the departure of beloved mail carrier Romeo Guy from 20 years on the same route) and “Formerly of ‘Fiddler,’ Finkel, 93, Far From Final Act” (about Fyvush Finkel’s March 2016 show at the Metropolitan Room; sadly, Finkel passed away several months later). Also contributing to the win were “Google Neighbor Searching for Some Peace” and the presidential election headline, “Herstory Denied As Red Tide Floods Hill.”
Chelsea Now also received a Division 2 Honorable Mention for Coverage of the Arts. Sean Egan was recognized for his roundup of the Rubin Museum of Art’s Brainwave festival; Nicole Javorsky, for her profile of several area art classes where booze accompanies the brushwork; Scott Stiffler, for his look at the Irish Repertory Theatre’s return to a gloriously restored W. 22nd St. facility; and Puma Perl, for her look at a documentary filmmaker’s project focusing on Chelsea Hotel resident Gerald Busby. This was Perl’s second consecutive win in the category, having shared a 2015 NYPA Second Place award for The Villager’s arts coverage (Perl’s contribution was a profile of the Guerrilla Girls’ 30th anniversary exhibition). Of this year’s Honorable Mention win for Chelsea Now, the judge said, “Nice diversity of arts topics, including spiritual and intellectual arts rather than just music, stage and visual. Nice focus on the people and players behind the arts scene, not just the events.”
Our NYC Community Media sister publications were also honored this year. Downtown Express editor Bill Egbert won Second Place, Division 4, for In-Depth Reporting. The series on garbage pick-ups and pile-ups south of Canal St. was hailed as “very well reported and written” and declared to be a “probing look into an issue that must have an impact on most people… a good submission in showing both research and policy exploration… it did a great job of consolidating the issue to a few stories.
Gay City News’ Division 2 Coverage of Election/Politics was awarded Second Place, shared by editor Paul Schindler, Andy Humm, and Duncan Osborne. “Gay City News is clear about who it serves and how to best serve those readers,” said the judge. “The storytelling is lively, the reporting excellent. This publication does a fantastic job of finding the appropriate balance in its political coverage, which can be difficult when serving a targeted audience. Impressive!” Schindler was also recognized with a Third Place win in the statewide category of Community Leadership, specifically for the 2016 inaugural edition of Gay City News’ annual Impact Awards. “Informative from front to back,” said the judge of this “slick publication with lots of names and faces.”
Best Editorial Page, a statewide category, recognized Gay City News with an Honorable Mention, which was shared by Schindler, along with Susie Day, Kelly Cogswell, and Ed Sikov. “Well written. Well organized. Plethora of information,” read the judge’s note. Gay City News was given an additional Honorable Mention (Division 2) in the Photographic Excellence category. The publication’s look at guns won an Honorable Mention in Division 4, for In-Depth Reporting, which the judge called “wonderfully comprehensive, with a variety of reporting opinion, local and national perspective, including a look at guns. The locally reported stories help make the coverage.” In a Division 2 Honorable Mention in the category of Photographic Excellence, Gay City News was praised for its “cool” use of “black and white on the Bronx Heroes page.”
Under the leadership of editor in chief Lincoln Anderson, The Villager won a Division 1 Best News or Feature Series Second Place honor, which went to Anderson for his ongoing series of articles on Adam Purple, the late legendary Lower East Side urban gardener, who — as Anderson first reported in 2015 — was convicted of sexually abusing his own children while living in Australia. “An emotionally difficult story to get through but I couldn’t stop until the end,” said the judge, adding, “Wow.” Also in Division 1, Third Place honors went to The Villager’s freelancer Milo Hess, for Art Photo. His “unique framing and creative positioning” of the annual 9/11 Tribute in Light display was further praised as doing “what a photographer does best: capturing a different perspective of a subject to tell a story.” The Villager also won Second Place in Division 1’s Picture Story category, for Q. Sakamaki’s photos of Fukushima, Japan, five years after the nuclear disaster there. “This entry had strong storytelling images, and had a diversity of images that truly added to the storytelling dimension,” said the judge, who further noted, “The detailed images greatly added to the overall package.” The Villager also garnered a Division 1 Honorable Mention for an Editorial Cartoon by Ira Blutreich, for his two-panel drawing depicting Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as identical monsters, save for a tie and orange hair on Trump and lipstick and pearls on Clinton — the candidates as the opposing parties saw them.
Chelsea Now’s Community News Group sister publications representing the borough of Queens also made a strong showing. A First Place award in Division 3 went to Patrick Donachie of the Bayside Times, for Coverage of Education. The series of articles covering an embattled interim high school principal at Townsend Harris, noted the judge, “show the reporter was staying on top of issues in schools and holding administrators accountable for finances and effective leadership. The feature story on the prom helped round out the entries with positive things students are doing.” Bayside Times’ Bill Parry and photographer Naeisha Rose shared a Third Place Division 3 win for their Spot News Coverage of an anti-Trump march from Queens to Manhattan, which was “challenging to cover,” said the judge. “I felt the coverage of this protest was top-notch. From the start of page one, the pairing of the photos and the article gives the reader a real sense of what the event was like and what drew people to the streets. Well done!”
Second Place wins, in Divisions 6 and 3 respectively, went to the Bayside Times for Feature Story and Picture Story. Sadef Ali Kully’s feature on Johnny Hincapie, whose murder conviction was reversed after he served 25 years, was hailed as an “excellent report” covering “the whole story in a digestible amount of space. Kudos for taking me to his crime, his time in jail and his hope for life after jail.” Michael Shain’s photos of a Golden Gloves boxing tournament, said the judge, did “an excellent job telling a story through the images.”
A Second Place award for Photographic Excellence in Division 2 went to the TimesLedger for two separate editions. “This paper has some really great photography,” the judge observed, “and the photos are used well considering the limitations of the tabloid format and the current economic climate requiring front page advertisements that hamstring layout options.” Lest that comment seem a bit too “inside baseball” for you, dear general reader, the judge concluded with, “Every page inside has a photo to accompany the stories. Use of multiple photo pages put this entry to the top.”
Congratulations to all of our colleagues, and we’ll see you next year in Saratoga Springs!