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The Villager won two first-place awards and nine awards over all in the New York Press Association’s 2012 Better Newspaper Contest. The awards were handed out at the annual NYPA spring convention last weekend in Upstate Saratoga Springs.
It was a strong showing again for The Villager, which finished ranked among the top 10 of New York State community weeklies in total editorial points won. The Villager tied for ninth place over all with the Suffolk Times.
Leading the way were veteran writer Jerry Tallmer and photographer Bob Krasner.
Tallmer, 92 — one of the “founding fathers” of the Village Voice in 1955 — won first place in the very prestigious Best Column category. Tallmer’s ability to deftly interweave nostalgia and current events wowed the judge in this category. (This year’s contest was judged by members of the North Carolina Press Association.)
“I think I need to subscribe to The Villager, just to read Tallmer,” the judge wrote in his or her comments. “Judge’s four-word comment: I love this stuff.”
The three columns of Tallmer’s entered included one about how he has always hated Boca Raton — where a too-cool Joe Namath once blew him off for an interview before Super Bowl III, and where Mitt Romney made his infamous statement about the “47 percent”; another Romney-focused piece in which Tallmer regretted how he himself had bullied an obnoxious high school classmate; and a column on the Newtown mass school shooting.
Lensman Krasner won first place in the Art Photo category for his atmospheric shot of “The Birdman” among his overflowing stacks of piled CDs in his cramped Rainbow Music store, at First Ave. and St. Mark’s Place.
“Visually interesting and really captures the spirit of the individual photographed. A unique portrait,” the judge for this category commented.
Tequila Minsky won third place for News Story for her coverage of the tragic death of Jessica Dworkin, a.k.a. Jessie Blue, last August. The free-spirited Soho resident, 58, was riding her kick scooter through the extremely dangerous intersection of Sixth Ave. and Houston St. when she was run over by an oversized flatbed truck.
“Sadly, tragic accidents are routine stories in newspapers,” the judge wrote, “but this particular article painted a very moving picture of the victim and dove in deeper to her life. It covers not only the details of the accident itself but talks to the woman’s friends to provide a very thorough look at her life and personality. Rather than stop there, it also examines the dangers of the particular intersection where the accident occurred.”
Lincoln Anderson, The Villager’s editor in chief, won honorable mention for Feature Story, which is the contest’s most competitive category. Anderson’s entry, “Artist is stuck on sidewalk gum, and he’s in heaven,” profiled East Villager James Wechsler making late-night impressions of sidewalk chewing gum wads at Cooper Square, which he would later transform into paintings of stars.
“Strong, tight writing!” the judge wrote.
The Villager also won third place for Coverage of the Arts — and may have boosted tourism, to boot.
“Great job of encapsulating all Halloween shows, and what they are about,” the judge said. “The description of each play brings them to life, and made me feel like early fall, prior to Halloween, would be the ideal time to take in some theater in Downtown New York.”
Jefferson Siegel won second place in the Feature Photo category for his shot of Aron Kay, the “Yippie Pie Man,” holding an American flag that someone had set aflame — while Pookie, a local crust punk, lit her cigarette off it — at the Tompkins Square Park 9/11 punk concert.
“A simple shot,” the judge wrote, “but points for being there at the right time and capturing a very controversial moment with clarity.”
(“Controversial,” is right: Musician David Peel, who was performing at the time, is still furious about the incident.)
Speaking of crusties, Ellen Moynihan won second place for Spot News Photo for her shot of Park Enforcement Police arresting a crusty in Washington Square Park last summer after he refused to leash his dogs. As the man lies handcuffed on the ground, two of his female friends angrily curse out the PEP officers and give them the finger.
“This is what spot news is all about,” the judge in this category commented. “Main image here was probably the best moment of the entire dust-up, and the photographer got it.”
Siegel also won third place in Spot News Photo for his image of a chaotic arrest scene at the Occupy Wall Street encampment in front of Trinity Church on lower Broadway.
“There’s a lot going on here,” remarked the judge, “and the photographer did a nice job of capturing it all.”
In Editorial Cartoon, Ira Blutreich snagged second place for his spoof of Mayor Bloomberg’s “nanny state” rules.
Blutreich’s toon shows people being punished for violating the mayor’s new regulations against smoking and other proposed rules, with the violators imprisoned in a stock or tied up and hanging from a lamppole, etc., while the mayor gleefully flosses his brain through his ears.
“Serious question asked in a lighthearted way,” the judge observed.
Other papers in The Villager’s NYC Community Media newsgroup also did well in the NYPA awards.
Gay City News had a banner year, with its “A Perfect 10” tenth-anniversary special issue, in particular, earning highest praise. The issue took first place for Historical, Anniversary or Progress Editions.
“This section deserves a place in a time capsule,” the judge wrote.
Gay City News also won third place in the Past Presidents Award category, which recognizes overall excellence.
Senior designer Michael Shirey won second place for Graphic Illustration for his front-page wrap cover for the Gay City News 10th anniversary section.
“I can’t define why, but I really like this graphic,” the judge noted of Shirey’s design. “Retro, hip, cool, something that I know I couldn’t create myself. Very nice work.”
Scott Stiffler, editor of Chelsea Now, won first place for Obituaries. His entry included an obituary of John Doyel, who, working in his Chelsea basement, designed various Ronco products of late-night TV fame, including the Smokeless Ashtray, the Rhinestone and Stud Setter and the Miracle Broom, among others.
Competing in the contest’s toughest division — against the state’s largest-circulation weeklies — NYC Community Media finished ranked fifth among group or chain newspapers in the state.