More than 150 newspapers from across the state competed over the weekend to see who was the best of the best. And when it came to overall design excellence, there was no paper better than The Riverdale Press.
At least according to the New York Press Association during its annual conference in Albany.
The newspaper’s design team of Michael Hinman, Richard Stein and Mekea Fishlin took top honors for overall design excellence — an award that, coincidently, is named after Stein, a former publisher of The Press.
“How appropriate that the award named for the former publisher of this newspaper should take home this award,” press association officials said.
One of the judges of the competition from the Michigan Press Association praised the newspaper’s “very modern” flag “that leads you into a well laid out paper.”
The judges paid close attention to the Sept. 14 edition, especially its annual “Living in Riverdale” special booklet. There, judges praised the design and concept of the vignettes featuring mom and pop stores.
The Press also won three other awards over the weekend for work in news, features and sports.
Reporter Zak Kostro won third place for best news story for his work chronicling the issues reporters had accessing the voting precinct at Fort Independence Houses on election day. The Nov. 9 story featured polling site coordinator Paulette Dildy’s refusal to allow a Press photographer into the voting area, despite having written permission from the elections board executive director.
“Wonderful job standing your ground,” the judges said of Kostro. “Solid, unbiased reporting.”
Although Julius Constantine Motal is the chief photographer at The Press, he also impressed judges with his writing, earning him an honorable mention for best feature story that was also featured in the Nov. 9 issue highlighting Mehnaz Afridi’s work to spotlight the struggles of an ethnic Muslim minority group known as the Rohingya.
“A heavy story about how one local (woman) is trying to help people who live 8,000 miles away,” according to the judges. “The two breakout boxes help explain who the people are and how readers can help them.”
Sports editor Sean Brennan also got into the action with an honorable mention for best sports feature with his May 18 profile of American Studies baseball coach Pete Nizzari.
“A wonderful yarn about a coach who retires then comes back to the field to coach baseball — all at the age of 75,” according to the judges. “The writer shows how much his return to the field has helped his health and enjoyment of life … (and) also used a bit of humor to capture what would happen in a few years if this man stayed coaching.”
Herald Community Newspapers, the Long Island-based chain The Riverdale Press belongs to, was the second most-awarded chain at this year’s state conference, behind only the Times/Review Newspapers group that includes The Suffolk Times in Mattituck.