The Queens Chronicle won one of the most prestigious journalism awards bestowed by the New York Press Association last weekend, during the organization’s annual conference in upstate Saratoga Springs.
The paper also took home five other awards, in all areas: news, advertising and design.
But it was the Sharon R. Fulmer Award for Community Leadership that was the most notable achievement. The Chronicle won the honor for its “SitWant,” or Situation Wanted, initiative, designed to help veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan find work.
Along with the requisite plaque, the community leadership award comes with a $500 grant the winning newspaper can donate to a charity of its choice.
SitWant, military speak for Situation Wanted, allows veterans of the conflicts in the Middle East to place free classified ads touting their training, discipline and experience, so that employers can find qualified applicants. It was the brainchild of Chronicle co-founder Stanley Merzon — and it remains available to veterans today.
“The Sharon R. Fulmer Award for Community Leadership is one of the most important honors ever bestowed on the Queens Chronicle,” Publisher Mark Weidler said. “I commend all the staffers who put so much work into making it happen, and thank Stanley deeply for such a great idea. I also encourage all eligible veterans to get in touch with us so we can help them find the jobs they need.”
“We salute the Queens Chronicle for helping veterans re-enter civilian life,” the judges, who are from another state’s press association, said in bestowing the award.
The Chronicle won five other honors from NYPA this year.
The paper — which due to its high circulation is in the toughest contest division — took first place for its coverage of crime, police and the courts. The judges’ opinion: “Really terrific stories, well-written and clear. Nobody in this division covers crime like the Queens Chronicle.”
Chronicle contributor Janne Louise Andersen, who interned here last year, won the paper a third-place award for in-depth reporting with her four-part series on prescription drug abuse.
“A thorough inquiry and explanation from personal, professional, legislative and law enforcement perspectives, woven into an eye-opening, edifying series.” the judges said. “Great job!”
The Chronicle also won third place for its coverage of education, with Editor Domenick Rafter leading the way and the judges remarking, “Interesting and engaging series of stories on the potential closings of schools. Eloquently answers the ‘So what?’ question often missing in these stories.”
Associate Art Director Ella Jipescu took first place for best graphic illustration for her front-page “Budget storm” design, which ran in several editions last May 10. It showed a tornado of cash being whipped up, with Queens Boulevard as a backdrop, to represent the mayor’s and City Council’s fight over spending.
“Cool,” the judges said. “Best single illustration in this group. It really defines the title of the article very well.”
Account Executive Donna DeCarolis-Folias and Associate Art Director Moeen Din teamed up to win third place in the best multi-advertiser pages category, for a pullout celebrating cultural diversity in Sunnyside.
The judges said they “like this very much,” adding that “there is interest and the graphics are awesome.”
“I congratulate all our staffers for the hard work that went into winning these awards,” Weidler said.