Rockaway Times Wins 5 Awards   In Statewide Competition

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Nearly four years in business and The Rockaway Times has taken home at least one award in the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest every year so far. Not too shabby. But we outdid ourselves when the winners of the 2017 contest were announced last weekend at NYPA’s Spring Convention in Albany. The Rockaway Times won a total of five awards in the NYPA’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.

NYPA’s 2018 Spring Convention, where journalists from across the state gather to learn new tips of the trade from guest speakers, and to hopefully be awarded for their endeavors of the previous calendar year, was held in Albany on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, The Rockaway Times staff could not attend this year, but that didn’t stop the good news from flowing in over the weekend, and by Monday morning, we got the official word that The Rockaway Times won a whopping five awards this year (a personal record for us, having only won one award each previous year)!

The Rockaway Times can proudly call ourselves First Place winners this year, after taking the top award for Best Spot News Photo. However, we have to give credit where it’s due. A big thanks and congratulations goes to reader, Ron McGrisken for his awesome shot of a whale feeding on some fish just off the beach. McGrisken submitted his photo to The Rockaway Times and we knew it was great enough to deserve some front-page glory on our 2017 Thanksgiving cover. And NYPA thought it was First Place worthy. There were 58 photos submitted in this category, and McGrisken’s whale of a photo was chosen as number one out of 27 that were submitted to Division 2. Way to go, Ron!

Congratulations are also in order for our own Managing Editor, Katie McFadden, who can officially call herself an award-winning writer. McFadden has proven herself as a talented feature writer, having received an Honorable Mention in NYPA’s 2015 Contest for a feature story about her father. But she has moved on up, taking Second Place for Best Feature Story this year. In September 2017, McFadden wrote the story of locals George Johnson and John Carlin, who took lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy, down to Houston, Texas, after the area was hit by Hurricane Harvey, and selflessly dedicated their time to helping those who needed it most. “A strong story about people reaching out to those in need — unknown and far away,” the judges said in their comments about the story. The Feature Story category is the most-entered category in the Better Newspaper Contest each year. This year, there were a total of 292 entries and McFadden took second out of 29 entries in Division 6.

McFadden also earned The Rockaway Times Second Place for Best Headline Writing. Throughout the year, McFadden came up with some witty headlines for our front pages, like “Houston, We Have A Solution; Ain’t Snow Stoppin’ Him Now; Erin Go Brrr!; What’s Up, Dock? And A Loss to Whale Over. “Big, loud claps for these headlines. These short puns are well timed and appropriate,” the judges said. The Rockaway Times earned second place out of 35 entries in this category.

We knew how important the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy would be to our readers, so we tried to put out all the stops to commemorate this community-changing event, and NYPA recognized it too. On the cover of the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy edition, we featured a photo by Teddy Ostrander, showing the after-effects of Sandy on a beachfront home. NYPA judges said, “Very heart wrenching. Really shows what people went through. Very emotional,” about the cover and awarded The Rockaway Times Third Place for Best Special Section Cover in Division 2. There were 43 entries for Division 2 and 63 overall. Thank you to Teddy for this great shot that really helped us tell the story of Sandy, without needing words.

The last award, we know isn’t worth boasting about, but it sure is funny and if we couldn’t laugh at ourselves, we’d be doing something wrong. Everyone makes mistakes, but we found this one good enough to own up to and enter in the Blooper of the Year category. And well, we came on top, or bottom, depending on how you look at it. The Rockaway Times won First Place for Blooper of the Year. Back in September 2017, in our “Things to Do” section, we ran an item about an upcoming Crab Boil Dinner event. Except “Crap” came out. Literally. We’re not sure how Crab turned into Crap, especially with the B and P being pretty far from each other on the keyboard, but we let our readers know about an upcoming Crap Boil Dinner in our calendar after it was missed in proofreading. We trust that our readers were smart enough to know they’d be dining on shellfish and not poo poo platters. We did hear that the event sold out, which was a win for the organizers, and the flub earned us Blooper of the Year, but a win is a win, right? We will admit that the competition wasn’t too stiff for this one, as we were the only newspaper brave enough to admit our flaws and submit and entry for the category. But politicians sometimes run unopposed and they still come on top, right?

The Rockaway Times is very proud of our achievements this year and we hope to continue to put out quality work for years to come, with hopefully, less bloopers.

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