Record showing for Heralds in 2017 New York Press Association contest


The Herald Community Newspapers won big in the New York Press Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest, taking home 29 awards — 26 of them for editorial excellence. That was a record for the Heralds in the annual competition.

The Riverdale Press, another newspaper owned by Richner Communications Inc., the Heralds’ parent company, received four awards, including first place for Overall Design Excellence.

“It’s hard to find words to express how proud my brother Stuart and I are of our team and the excellent work that these awards recognize,” said Heralds Co-Publisher Cliff Richner. “The range of awards across so many categories is particularly impressive, and reflects our ongoing commitment to quality community journalism. 2017 was Scott Brinton’s first full year as executive editor, and he gets credit as the coach of this winning team.

“While the entire staff contributed to these awards,” Richner continued, “Mike Smollins, editor of the Lynbrook/East Rockaway Herald, deserves special mention for winning the newly created Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting. So does Ben Strack, last year’s Rookie of the Year, who brought home the Past Presidents’ Award for General Excellence in his first year as editor of the Rockville Centre Herald. I could go on, but let me just thank the entire Herald team in every department for the outstanding work they do 52 weeks a year.”

Some 156 newspapers submitted 2,783 entries to the contest. The Heralds came in second in the state among newspaper groups. In all, the Herald earned eight first-place awards:

General Excellence

Rockville Centre, First Place

The Rockville Centre Herald submitted three full editions of the paper for review by the judges. In particular, they praised Editor Ben Strack’s feature story on the Henry Viscardi School’s 2017 eighth-grade salutatorian — who overcame the challenges of spinal muscular atrophy to rise to the top the class. Judges called the story “engaging.”

RVC Herald reporters last year included Peter Belfiore and Zach Gottehrer-Cohen, who were promoted to editor and assistant editor, respectively.

Judges also commended the annual Election, First on the Scene firefighters’ tribute, K-Kids kindergarten and Arts & Entertainment sections. Scott Brinton, the Heralds’ executive editor, was editor of the Election and First on the Scene sections. Karen Bloom, the special sections editor, was editor of the K-Kids and Arts & Entertainment sections. Creative Director Jeff Negrin designed the special sections, and Christina Daly was the photo editor.

Rhonda Glickman is the vice president of advertising, and Marty Goldenberg and Ron Rothenberg are the RVC Herald’s advertising executives.

In-Depth Reporting

Lynbrook-East Rockaway Herald, First Place

Editor Mike Smollins submitted an investigative series on a Hurricane Sandy contractor who authorities allege scammed storm victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Smollins’s series was credited with breaking the story and bringing Long Island-wide attention to it. 

Judges said, “This is what being a newspaper is all about: Nailing the scam artist and spurring [prosecutorial] action.” 

See the original story from June 17, 2017, here.

Spot News Coverage

Rockville Centre Herald, First Place

Strack, Brinton and Nassau Herald Editor Jeff Bessen teamed up to cover the mass shooting at the Jason Aldean concert at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last October. The three tracked down local people who attended the concert and escaped unharmed. The morning after the shooting, the victims painted a detailed picture of the horror felt by all on the scene that day. 

“Great job localizing a national story on a deadline,” the judges wrote. “Shows that organizing a staff in a focused effort can bring a story to readers quickly.”

See the original story from Oct. 2, 2017, here.

News Story

Freeport Herald-Leader, First Place

Freeport Editor Nadya Nataly, Bellmore-Merrick Editor Erik Hawkins, East Meadow Editor Brian Stieglitz, Brinton and Daly worked together last fall to cover a series of MS-13 gang killings in Freeport and Bellmore-Merrick, and followed up their coverage with an editorial that caught local and state officials’ attention. John Scalesi, an area citizen photographer, also provided images of police scenes.

“Excellent job of tag-teaming the coverage of this breaking and dramatic story,” Judges wrote. “Excellent follow-up coverage as well. Inclusion of the governor’s proposed investment in gang prevention and the editorial, which includes vital information and applicable steps for the community, shows the staff’s commitment to their communities.”

Find one in a series of stories on the MS-13 killings, from Oct. 27, 2017, here. Find the Herald's editorial on MS-13 here

News/Feature Series

East Meadow Herald, First Place

Stephany Reyes, who was the East Meadow editor in 2017 but recently left the paper to pursue public relations work, produced an in-depth series on Latinos living in the East Meadow community in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, from mid-September to mid-October. She also wrote an editorial to cap the series.

“Great variety of stories highlighting the Latino experience in the community,” the judges wrote. “Editorial ties the news pieces together in a call to action that resonates with Hispanic and non-Hispanic readers alike.”

Find one in a series of stories in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, from Sept. 28, 2017, here

Feature Photo

Freeport Herald-Leader, First Place

Daly took a wild ride on a stunt plane last May to preview the annual air show at Jones Beach State Park, held over the Memorial Day weekend, and captured an image from the plane as it rolled across the sky over the Atlantic Ocean.

Judges wrote, “The photo puts the reader in a spot few see and captures a perfect moment when the inverted plane is passed by another plane, complete with exhaust, with the bridge perfectly placed in the frame. Couldn’t be better.”

Sports Feature Photo

Long Beach Herald, First Place

Freelance photographer Brian Ballweg captured a celebratory moment shared by the Long Beach High School girls’ volleyball team at a championship match, which ran across the top of the front page. 

“Great emotion,” the judges said. “The team reaction is priceless. Great image.”

Best Special Section Cover

Nassau Herald, First Place

Creative Director Jeff Negrin designed the cover for the First On the Scene section, which showed the back of a firefighter in full gear stepping into the flames of a raging fire.

Judges said, “Cover really catches the meaning of the whole section. Great job!”


Thirty-three awards in all

First Place

General Excellence, Rockville Centre Herald: Ben Strack, Zach Gottehrer-Cohen, Peter Belfiore, Scott Brinton, Karen Bloom, Jeff Negrin, Christina Daly, Rhonda Glickman, Marty Goldenberg, Ron Rothenberg

In-Depth Reporting, Lynbrook-East Rockaway Herald: Mike Smollins

Overall Design Excellence, Riverdale Press: Michael Hinman, Richard Stein, Mekea Fishlin

Spot News Coverage, Rockville Centre Herald: Strack, Brinton, Jeff Bessen

News Story, Freeport Herald-Leader: Nadya Nataly,

Erik Hawkins, Brian Stieglitz, Brinton, Daly

News/Feature Story, East Meadow Herald:

Stephany Reyes

Feature Photo, Freeport Herald-Leader: Daly

Sports Feature Photo, Long Beach Herald: Brian Ballweg

Best Special Section Cover, Nassau Herald: Negrin

Second Place

General Excellence, Long Beach Herald: Anthony Rifilato, Bridget Downes

News Story, Rockville Centre Herald: Belfiore, Brinton

Feature Story, Lynbrook-East Rockaway Herald: Smollins

Best Obituaries, Lynbrook-East Rockaway Herald:


Best Column, Nassau Herald: Randi Kreiss

Special Section/Niche Publication, Nassau Herald:

Brinton, Tyler Marko, Negrin

Best Small Space Ad, Wantagh-Seaford Herald Citizen: Mona Waitzman

Third Place

Community Leadership, Long Beach Herald: Rifilato, Downes, Brinton

Coverage of Education, Bellmore Herald Life: Hawkins, Stieglitz, Brinton

Coverage of Crime and Courts, Oceanside Herald:

Belfiore, Gottehrer-Cohen, Strack

Sports Coverage, Nassau Herald: Tony Bellissimo, Negrin

News Story, Riverdale Press: Zak Kostro

Editorials, Valley Stream Herald: Nataly, Brinton,

Nick Ciccone, Reyes

Art Photo, East Meadow Herald: Daly

Sports Feature Photo, Sea Cliff-Glen Head Herald Gazette: John Heckman

Spot News Photo, Nassau Herald: Sue Grieco

Best House Ad, Glen Cove Herald Gazette

Honorable Mention

Best Front Page, Long Beach Herald: Rifilato, Downes

Headline Writing, Lynbrook-East Rockaway Herald:

Smollins, Melissa Koenig

Feature Story, Riverdale Press: Julius Constantine Motal

Best Column, Merrick Herald: Brinton

Spot News Photos, Rockville Centre Herald:

Rossana Weitekamp, Brinton, Daly

Best Small Space Ad, Bellmore Herald Life: Gabriella Sobell

Sports Feature, Riverdale Press: Sean Brennan