Gazette journalists honored in ’21 New York Press Association contest (with 14 images)

Morning sunrise on main track during training hours at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on July 7, 2021.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Morning sunrise on main track during training hours at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on July 7, 2021.

Fourteen Daily Gazette journalists were honored in the New York Press Association’s 2021 Better Newspaper Contest. Winners were announced at NYPA’s annual spring conference Friday and Saturday in Saratoga Springs.

First-place winners from the Gazette were sports columnist Mike MacAdam, who was named Sports Writer of the Year for the second time in three years; staff photographer Erica Miller, who was named Photographer of the Year for the second year in a row; and, the newspaper’s annual food section, which took the top spot in the Special Sections/Niche Publications category.

A Gazette Sports staffer for more than three decades, MacAdam was again named the top sportswriter in the state from a field of 14 entries. The judges said MacAdam demonstrated his exceptional writing ability and versatility throughout 2021.

“Whether it’s through a feature on the bond of a trio of soccer-playing sisters or a first-person account of participating in athletic competition during the novel coronavirus pandemic, MacAdam’s unique ability to connect with readers always is present,” the judges’ citation read.

“MacAdam shows very colorful and energetic writing with plenty of imagery and detail,” the judges said. “Fun stories to read no matter the subject. His entertaining style made him stand out, but he also showed the ability to address serious issues.”

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A Gazette photographer since 2015, Miller was named the top photographer out of a pool of 15 across the state. The judges credited her with capturing action, reaction and emotion with her images.

“You captured some great moments – wide variety – thoroughbred racing, protests, victories, rallies, leisure,” the judges wrote. “You also captured great emotion, found great angles, took advantage of available lighting, and helped us feel the emotion and energy of the moment.”

“The people who work with Erica describe her as the consummate shooter, beloved co-worker, perennial all-star and always willing to go the extra step to track down a source, investigate a story lead or help ferret out some information for a story,” according to the award citation.

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In the Special Sections/Niche Publications category, several Gazette staffers were honored with first- and second-place awards.

First place went to the newspaper’s annual food section. “At first glance, this entry appeared to be a regular food section, but it was so much more,” according to the citation. “The wide variety of stories show how individuals, families and businesses adapted to the pandemic. To use a food reference, the A la carte story list made me want to continue reading. Excellent!”

Honored for their work on the section were staffers Indiana Nash, John Thorpe, Erica Miller, Stan Hudy and Peter Barber.

Second place went to the Gazette’s special section on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“A tough topic to cover even after 20 years,” according to the citation. “Particularly enjoyed the readers’ personal recollections throughout the publication. The story on the lasting impact on the Muslim community was well done.”

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Honored for their work on the 9/11 section were Gazette Editor Miles Reed, page designer John Thorpe, veteran journalists Jeff Wilkin and Bill Buell and staff members.

In the Sports Feature category, Gazette staffers took three awards.

Second Place went to MacAdam for his poignant look at a man who stepped off the coaching merry-go-round, then was taken way too soon.

“I smell the butter on the popcorn,” quipped the citation about MacAdam’s moving piece being worthy of a movie.

Third Place went to sportswriter Adam Shinder about Special Olympic athletes.

“What we’ve lost during two years of disruption [from the COVID-19 pandemic] may be impossible to calculate, but we get a taste of it here,” the judges wrote about Shinder’s story.

Honorable Mention in this category went to Gazette Sports Editor Michael Kelly for his enjoyable look back at one of Union College’s biggest sports fans.

In the Solutions Journalism category, five Gazette journalists led by Managing Editor Cailin Brown received an Honorable Mention for their work on sexual harassment.

“Good job on an important issue,” the judges’ citation read. “Seeking out women who were willing to speak out publicly is always a tough job, but the newspaper found six women who were willing to share their stories of sexual harassment in hopes of helping other victims. The section on what steps women can take if they are sexually harassed at work added immensely to the project.”

Brown was joined on the project by staffers Ashley Onyon, Shenandoah Briere, Indiana Nash and Lianne Webster-Kim.

In overall competition, the Gazette was named among the top five newspapers in New York state for total contest points for single-flag publications.

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