Four Herald Community Newspapers editors have been promoted to senior editor, according to Publishers Cliff and Stuart Richner and Executive Editor Scott Brinton.
The new senior editors include Jeffrey Bessen, Erik Hawkins, Laura Lane and Anthony Rifilato. They each bring a decade or more of reporting experience to their new posts.
“All of the journalists named as senior editors today are already leaders in our newsroom,” Cliff Richner said. “The goal of this reorganization is to continue our hyper-local focus on each of the communities we cover while better organizing to provide in-depth coverage of the issues that affect all of our readers throughout Nassau County.”
The senior editor position was created recently, in part, to recognize outstanding journalistic talent and commitment. Each of the four senior editors will help oversee a group of editors and reporters in developing major stories and series. Each senior editor has been assigned to a geographic region within the Heralds’ rapidly expanding coverage area.
Bessen is responsible for the West Zone, which includes the Nassau, Lynbrook-East Rockaway, Valley Stream, Franklin Square-Elmont and Malverne-West Hempstead Heralds.
Hawkins is responsible for the East Zone, which includes the Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, Seaford and East Meadow Heralds.
Lane is responsible for the North Zone, which includes the Glen Cove and Sea Cliff-Glen Head Heralds and the Oyster Bay Guardian.
Rifilato is responsible for the Central Zone, which includes the Long Beach, Oceanside-Island Park, Rockville Centre, Baldwin and Freeport Heralds.
Below are biographies of the new senior editors.
Jeffrey Bessen has been with Herald Community Newspapers since 2010 as editor of the Nassau Herald, which covers the Five Towns.
Before joining Richner Communications Inc., he was editor of the Islip Bulletin and Suffolk County News. Both newspapers cover several communities on the South Shore of Suffolk County.
Bessen has won a number of New York Press Association awards as a community newspaper reporter and editor. The most recent was second place for Religion Coverage in NYPA's 2016 Better Newspaper Contest. He has also written for sports websites and radio, and produced a local cable television show.
Bessen earned a bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State and a master’s from Miami University of Ohio.
Erik Hawkins is currently the editor of the Bellmore and Merrick Heralds, and has written and edited for a number of publications, including the Portsmouth Herald and Exeter News-Letter, both in New Hampshire, and the York County Coast Star in Maine.
He is an avid cineaste and political junkie, who had the opportunity during the 2016 presidential primary to interview virtually every Democratic and Republican candidate one on one.
Before moving to New York, he lived in New Hampshire’s Seacoast Region for most of his life, and also in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for two years, where he worked on his Spanish, wrote freelance articles and fiction, and taught professional English to executives at Nissan, Ernst & Young and HSBC.
Hawkins now lives in New York City with his partner, Michael.
Laura Lane, the editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian for the past five years, has earned several honors in the New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest and last year took home third place in the Press Club of Long Island’s 2017 Media Awards for Best Community Weekly Newspaper.
At the helm as editor, Lane founded two new community papers for Richner Communications Inc. in March — the Glen Cove Herald Gazette and the Sea Cliff-Glen Head Herald Gazette.
A University of Michigan graduate, she has also written for Newsday and the New York Law Journal.
Anthony Rifilato is an award-winning journalist and editor of the Long Beach Herald since 2010.
A Hofstra University graduate, Rifilato studied journalism under the late Robert Greene, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor at Newsday, as well as Long Beach’s own Mary Anne Trasciatti, a professor of rhetoric.
Rifilato has written hundreds of news stories and features, on subjects ranging from Long Beach’s fiscal crisis to the Quiksilver Pro New York surfing competition. He is also the editor of Long Beach Magazine, a lifestyle publication produced by Herald Newspapers that showcases the best of the barrier island. He played a key role in its launch in 2014.
Most notably, Rifilato was at the helm of the Herald during Hurricane Sandy and provided extensive coverage by canvassing the community and speaking with dozens of residents and business owners reeling from the storm.
He has received numerous New York Press Association awards over the past several years, and the Huffington Post described the Long Beach Herald's coverage of post-storm issues as “excellent.”
In 2014, the Long Beach Herald was named Best Community Weekly Newspaper by the Press Club of Long Island, and also clinched a third-place win in the Local Media Association's 2014 Newspaper of the Year contest. Rifilato also earned a first-place NYPA award in 2015 for Best News or Feature Series, and has received awards for General Excellence, Coverage of Local Government, Politics and Elections, Crime and Spot News.