Star-Ledger wins general excellence award, numerous other top honors from state press association

The Star-Ledger won the general excellence award in the 2020 New Jersey Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, the association announced Friday.

It was the eighth time in the past 11 years The Star-Ledger won the award. Journalists at NJ Advance Media provide the majority of the locally produced content for The Star-Ledger, NJ.com and other affiliated papers.

In addition to the general excellence award, The Star-Ledger also took home top honors in various editorial, advertising and photography awards with much of the coverage focused on the devastating effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on New Jersey.

“Year in and year out, we have proven that we have the best team of journalists in New Jersey,” said Kevin Whitmer, the organization’s lead editor. “The pandemic pushed our journalists to new levels of service and quality journalism. That shows in these results and the fact that millions of readers every day now rely on our work to keep them safe and informed.”

Staff and reporters won first-place awards in the breaking news, critical writing, scholastic sports portfolio and other categories. The Star-Ledger received 18 first-place, 12 second-place and eight third-place awards, for a total of 38 editorial awards, the most since the 2014 contest.

Journalists who took home individual awards include sports reporter Brian Fonseca, who won first place for the Robert P. Kelly Award, which is given to “a permanent staffer with less than a year of professional experience at the time of publication”; Karin Price Mueller, who won a prize for her portfolio of business and government stories; and Dave D’Alessandro, who was cited for a portfolio of editorials.

Columnist Emeritus Jerry Izenberg won first place among sports columnists with a portfolio focused on underserved communities — Negro League ballplayers, an overlooked Native American boxer and Colin Kaepernick’s quest for social justice. Izenberg, 90, recently was inducted into the N.J. Hall of Fame and has been writing for The Star-Ledger since 1951, when he was a student at Rutgers University in Newark.

Other first-place writing awards went to Steve Politi, for his sports writing portfolio; Bobby Olivier, in the critical writing category; and Phil Cornell, for best headlines.

Star Ledger photography garnered one first-place award by Chris Faytok and four second-place awards.

The paper’s advertising team collected five first-place awards, three second place awards and two third-place awards.

NJ.com also took home 13 advertising and digital marketing awards, while Lori M. Nichols and Tim Hawk of The South Jersey Times took home 12 awards for photography.

Hawk won six first-place awards for work affiliated with The South Jersey Times.

The Star-Ledger competes in the state’s largest circulation category. The Express-Times of Easton, Pa., which is also part of NJ Advance Media, won the general excellence award in the under 25,000 circulation category. It marked the first time NJ Advance Media swept the daily contest since the company was formed in 2014.

The first-, second- and third-place winners from The Star-Ledger, South Jersey Times and NJ.com were:

The Star-Ledger:

Editorial:

First Place – Responsible Journalism – Enterprise Reporting – Coronavirus Pandemic Coverage – Staff

First Place – Responsible Journalism – First Amendment – Art Weissman Memorial Award – Unpaid and Unanswered and coverage of the state’s unemployment crisis – Sophie Nieto-Munoz, Karin Price Mueller, Matthew Stanmyre and Bobby Olivier

First Place – Responsible Journalism – Editorial Comment – Murphy and his golf cronies have Liberty State Park in their crosshairs. This is a recording // Helping hungry kids is a SNAP. So what’s keeping NJ from helping? // Welcome back to the MVC. This is what hell is like. – Dave D’Alessandro

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Breaking News – Statewide COVID-19 Shutdown – Staff

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Business & Government Writing Portfolio – Widow struggles to get rid of lease for husband’s new car after he dies of coronavirus // This boss used his home equity line to pay health insurance for his employees after shutdown // Cancer patient has waited 248 days for unemployment check – Karin Price Mueller

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Critical Writing – Springsteen ‘Letter to You’ album review: A masterful rock memoir, his best in many years // I’ve given up on N.J.’s drive-in concert experiment. Here’s why. // Celine Dion, alleged fellow human, is flawless at 1st N.J. concert in a decade – Bobby Olivier

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Robert P. Kelly Award-New Journalist – ‘Address me by my name’: Rutgers’ Ron Harper Jr. goes one-on-one with his father’s legacy // Why has Rutgers ignored this forgotten NCAA Tournament team? // Early arrivals, middle fingers and sold-out jerseys: NJ football fans welcome the XFL’s Guardians – Brian Fonseca

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Scholastic Sports Portfolio – What will it take to pull off HS sports this fall in N.J.? // She fought for a girls golf team at her school — and won. Then the pandemic hit. // After 2 decades, 337 wins and 1 untouchable legacy, Mike Otto retires from Delran – Brian Deakyne

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Sports Column – Negro League stars went to their graves waiting for recognition as Baseball dragged its feet // Mixed blood, sweat and tears: The long, strange and untold saga of boxing champion Marvin Camel // Roger Goodell still owes Colin Kaepernick an apology – Jerry Izenberg

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Sports Writing Portfolio – Meet the NJ siblings conquering the odds – and Rutgers med school – to chase Olympic fencing gold // Greg Schiano on why he left Rutgers and his road back to NJ // Eric LeGrand knows the coronavirus might kill him. He hasn’t left his house in 28 days. – Steve Politi

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Best Headlines – In time of need, paper guy brings kindness to his fold // All the world’s a stage of reopening // Cut out for the role of fans – Phil Cornell

First Place – Best Audio Category – #TogetherNJ – Jessica Remo, Jessica Mazzola, Katie Kausch

First Place – Best Video Portfolio – Andre Malok

First Place – Best Video Series – #TogetherNJ – Staff

First Place – Best Web Event – 24 Hours in Crisis – Staff

First PlaceDesign and Presentation – Feature Section Page Design Portfolio – Feature Page Design Portfolio – Jennifer Meyer

First Place – Reporting and Writing – Special Issue-In Paper – Another Day in Crisis – Staff

Second Place – Best Web Event – Silent Stages – Bobby Olivier, Aristide Economopoulos

Second Place – Innovation Award – Coronavirus Text Message Alerts – Staff

Second Place – Responsible Journalism – Public Service – Lloyd P. Burns Memorial Award – The Kids Left Behind – Adam Clark

Second Place – Reporting and Writing – Sports Column – Stop the games. All of them. // Rutgers star Geo Baker can lead a movement and make a different kind of history // As the Washington Redskins move toward name change, insensitive NJ school mascots finally have to go, too – Steve Politi

Second Place – Reporting and Writing – Scholastic Sports Portfolio – Years later, fate brings miracle babies from death’s door to state wrestling tourney // 126-pound final: Bergen Catholic’s Robert Howard leaves legacy for all to see // After sudden death of his brother, Becton football coach leads team to division title – Patrick Lanni

Second Place – Best Audio Category – Today in N.J. – Libby Cardone

Second Place – Design and Presentation – News/Business Page Design Portfolio – News Page Design Portfolio – James Moening

Second Place – Reporting and Writing – Local News Coverage – Staff

Third Place – Reporting and Writing – Specialty Writing Portfolio – This N.J. man took his own life during the pandemic // N.J.’s coronavirus outbreak may have started at a Yonkers racetrack // Nine pages of obituaries in 1 day. Here’s how our writers are chronicling the loss. – Keith Sargeant

Third Place – General Coronavirus/COVID-19 Coverage – Coronavirus has killed dozens in state prisons. How N.J. failed to stop it. – Blake Nelson, S.P. Sullivan, Joe Atmonavage

Third Place – Responsible Journalism – Editorial Comment – ‘I’m going to lose my life in this place’: ICE detainees beg for release // ‘They’re going to kill us in here’ – Or will ICE finally act? // We’re losing our battle with COVID. Murphy must act now – and so should all of us – Julie O’Connor

Third Place – Reporting and Writing – Feature- Lifestyle and Entertainment Writing Portfolio – The Survivor // This 100-year-old trailblazer, and her passion for voting, is the Election Day pick-me-up you need // Cancel Thanksgiving? My mother can’t bear the thought. – Jessica Remo

Third Place – Reporting and Writing – News Column – I’m not the same person I was a year ago and neither are you. How we survived the most unusual year of our lives. // What do all the coronavirus deniers have to say now? I asked them. // Cancel Thanksgiving? My mother can’t bear the thought. – Jessica Remo

Third Place – Best Video – Beloved 94-year-old hot dog lady is still working after months of COVID quarantine – Andre Malok

Third Place – Best Video Portfolio – Mel Ibarra

Third Place – Best Video Series – N.J. is Open – Dwayne Uzoaru

Advertising:

First Place – Best Ad in a Niche Publication/Magazine – RCCA Living With Cancer in 2020 – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Julie Williams, Senior Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Ad Professional & Technology Services- color or b&w – Precision Overhead Garage Door Service is New Jersey’s #1 Choice – Alaa Selim, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Jeff Ruderman, Director Digital Operations, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Special Topic Page(s) – Star Ledger Memorial Day Tribute – Classified Sales NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Niche Publication/Magazine – Jersey’s Best Spring 2020 – Kim Alvarez, Vice President, Business Development & Classified, NJ Advance Media; Jersey’s Best Staff, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Special Section – First Night Morris 2021 – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Isabella Mest, Director, Direct Marketing, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Classified Pages – SL Careers March 15, 2020 – Recruitment Sales Team, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best External Promotion Piece or Media Kit – Jersey’s Best Marketing Media Kit – Robert Morgia, Marketing Specialist, NJ Advance Media; Isabella Mest, Director, Direct Marketing, NJ Advance Media; Michele Hayes, Associate Vice President, Marketing, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Special Section – Top Workplaces – Recruitment Sales Team NJ Advance Media

Third Place – Best Special Section Cover – Fall Travel – Angela Perilla, Creative & Marketing Associate, NJ Advance Media

Third Place – Best Ad in a Niche Publication/Magazine – Springpoint Discover An All-Inclusive Lifestyle – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Dawn Apisa, Print Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

Photography:

First – Sports Feature – Steam – Chris Faytok

Second – General News- Son’s Farewell – Patti Sapone

Second – News Picture Story – End of Watch

Second – Portrait – Witch Doctor – Aristide Economopoulos

Second – Spot News – Fatal Fire – Aristide Economopoulos

NJ.com:

Advertising:

First Place – Best Digital Ad Campaign – Vitafusion CBD Full Spectrum Hemp Extract Gummies – Creative Team, NJ Advance Media; Yvonne Lardizabal, Senior Search/Social Account Manager, NJ Advance Media; Chris Allen Director, Digital Products, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Digital Impact Ad – Segal & Morel – Live Better, Spend Less, Get More – Alaa Selim, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Ashley Miller, Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Digital Standard Unit Ad – Lofts at Pier Village – Winter: Don’t Miss Your Chance – Alaa Selim, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Jeff Horn, Director, Sales, Real Estate, NJ Advance Media; Kenneth Bramson, Senior Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Multi-Media Online & Print Campaign – Centers for Neurosurgery Spine & Orthopedics – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Angela Perilla, Creative & Marketing Associate, NJ Advance Media; Casey Donnellon, Senior Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media; Jennifer Clark, Director, Local Retail, NJ Advance Media

First Place – Best Rich Media Creative – RCCA: Innovative Cancer Care Close to Home – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Julie Williams, Senior Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Digital House Ad – NJ is Open – Robert Morgia, Marketing Specialist, NJ Advance Media; Jacquelyn Gawron, Marketing Specialist, NJ Advance Media; David Martel, Chief Brand Strategist, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Digital Impact Ad – Home Surplus – Free Kitchen Assembly – Alaa Selim, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Timothy Drummond, Sales Director, NJ Advance Media; Vesna Day, Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Digital Standard Unit Ad – EANJ: Helping Our Employers-Members Keep Their Workplace Safe – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Casey Donnellon, Senior Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media; Magda Malinska, Marketing Solutions Manager, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Multi-Media Online & Print Campaign – Black Lives Matter – Angela Perilla, Creative & Marketing Associate, NJ Advance Media; Michele Hayes, Associate VP, Marketing, NJ Advance Media

Second Place – Best Rich Media Creative – Viking Pest Control: This Fall, Keep the Pests Out! – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Kenneth Bramson, Senior Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

Third Place – Best Digital Ad Campaign – Extell Lofts at Pier Village Display Ad Campaign – Alaa Selim, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Jeff Horn, Director, Sales, Real Estate, NJ Advance Media; Kenneth Bramson, Senior Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

Third Place – Best Digital Impact Ad – First Night Morris – On New Year’s Eve…Live, Streaming & On-Demand – Melissa Chin, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Isabella Mest, Director, Direct Marketing, NJ Advance Media

Third Place – Best Rich Media Creative – bcreative digital media: Video Sells! – Alaa Selim, Senior Creative Consultant, NJ Advance Media; Sean O’Donnell, Digital Account Manager, NJ Advance Media

South Jersey Times:

Photography:

First Place – Best Portfolio – Tim Hawk – Portfolio

First Place – Feature – Tim Hawk – Surfing Teddy

First Place – Feature Picture Story – Tim Hawk – FlyPups – Every photo in this set was so cute! Great series, but the fifth photo was my absolute favorite.

First Place – General News – Tim Hawk – Focused – It’s the eyes that draw the reader into this brilliantly-composed photo by Tim Hawk, which rose to the top of an incredibly-competitive category.

First Place – Pictorial – Tim Hawk – Spooky Blue Moon

First Place – Spot News – Tim Hawk – Atlantic City protest

Second Place – Protest – Tim Hawk – Sign of the times

Second Place – Sports Feature – Lori M. Nichols – Connor O’Neill, wrestler

Third Place – Sports Feature – Lori M. Nichols – Lady Herd

Third Place – Sports Feature Picture Story – Lori M. Nichols – Surf Jam

Third Place – Feature Picture Story – Tim Hawk – Red Solo Cup service – This series tells a unique story in a unique time. The fifth photo in the set was my favorite.

Third Place – Pictorial – Lori M. Nichols – The view from the jetty

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