For the second straight year, The Examiner’s editor-in-chief, Martin Wilbur, has won first-place for best editorials in the New York Press Association’s annual statewide Better Newspaper Contest, with a pair of other staff members also securing prizes, for feature writing and action sports photography.
In addition to Wilbur’s first-place win in The Examiner’s division for his Nov. 5, 2019 editorial on a local political issue, he was also picked as the honorable mention for a different editorial submission in the same awards category.
Examiner sports editor Andy Jacobs was also honored, winning third-place in the best sports action photo category.
Former Putnam Examiner editor David Propper, now a Journal News reporter, won a third-place award for his feature article on the late Roger Ailes and an HBO mini-series, “The Loudest Voice,” on the mogul’s life.
The Nov. 5 editorial by Wilbur discussed the exploits of the Mt. Pleasant GOP, which was believed to be in cahoots with the New York State Republican Party to scare voters with a mailer describing a local Democratic candidate, Francesca Hagadus-McHale, as a radical.
“Last week represented one of the all-time lowlights in local election campaign history,” Wilbur’s editorial began. “For the first time in recent memory, a state political committee injected itself into a local political race.” The piece later concluded this way: “And you wonder why there are so many uncontested races, even at the town and village level?”
Contest judges praised the editorial for its “strong defense of local official and calling out statewide organization for its abuse of power and inappropriate involvement and criticism.”
“While maintaining a local focus offers a mirror of devolved state of politics in the culture,” the judges also said. “Standing up and naming a wrong. Ending quetion speaks to the erosion of democracy that these actions further.”
As for Wilbur’s honorable mention, judges praised his Mar. 26, 2019 editorial headlined “Mount Kisco Must Receive Promised Firehouse Upgrades After Error.”
“Strong advocacy and defense of the community and calling out incompetence by firm,” the judges said. “And also calling for action and resolution.”
Jacobs, winning for sports photography for the second straight year, was praised for a wrestling photo.
“The photo helps to illustrate and illuminate what many people love about the sport of wrestling,” the judges said.
Propper, for his part, won for his feature on Ailes, the former Fox News titan who also ran a local paper with his wife in Putnam County.
“Wow, the judges wrote, “Fascinating story about how renowned slimeball Roger Ailes can even ruin a small town and a community newspaper.”
Since 1930, NYPA members have competed in the statewide awards competition in the annual contest. The contest is designed to measure papers of similar size against one another in categories such as news, photography and advertising.
A total of 173 newspapers submitted 2,918 entries, competing for awards in 64 categories. This year’s contest is for work published in 2019.
First-place winners are presented with plaques while second- and third-place winners are provided certificates. The awards are usually announced and given out at NYPA’s annual spring convention, either in Saratoga or Albany, but the event was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. NYPA announced the winners instead this year in a two-day online event on Thursday and Friday of last week.
The competition was judged by members of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.