Perusing the Latest New York Press Association Winners

By Richard Horgan Comment

There’s always plenty to digest. Posted this week, the full list of 2013 New York Press Association winners once again offers a reminder of the vibrant world of community weeklies. A total of 158 publications submitted entries for this latest judged contest.

CarrieMillerPicFirst off, our congratulations to Carrie Miller (pictured). The current contributor to the Riverhead News-Review and Suffolk Times won 2013’s Rookie Reporter of the Year prize:

“We were most impressed by the variety of ledes that Carrie used in her stories,” reads the judging panel’s notation. “She was very creative in the ways she started her stories and kept them flowing, keeping the reader’s attention throughout. Her stories read well and contain an abundance of information. Her writing style is impressive. We see this ‘Rookie’ on the road to much success as a newspaper reporter.”

Reporter of the Year went to Rich Bockmann, who writes for TimesLedger newspapers; his colleague Christina Santucci added another NYPA Photographer of the Year award to her collection; and New York’s Tribeca Trib won Best Website.

There’s also some fascinating details about the winner of the Sharon R. Fulmer Award for Community Leadership – Julie Lane with the Shelter Island Reporter. After she was contacted by a local man victimized by the area’s P.O. Box-only address system, it snowballed into the examination of a much larger issue:

Islanders trying to place orders online were told their zip codes didn’t exist. Even some Postal Service maps failed to show Shelter Island. Some company websites told would-be customers their zip codes were in East Hampton, not Shelter Island. Many Island residents weren’t receiving vital mail because of confusion between the zip code for Shelter Island, 11964, and the zip code for Shelter Island Heights, 11965.

We discovered that problem sprang from a lack of sufficient fields in some data base listings that couldn’t accommodate the entire Shelter Island Heights name and were dropping the final word, causing the data base to “self-correct” to the wrong zip code. Many calls and e-mails to postal officials locally, regionally and nationally went unanswered…

People were having insurance policies cancelled, sometimes because a bill was returned to them, leading to a conclusion that the insured didn’t live where they said they lived. Others who didn’t get bills were seeing policies cancelled for nonpayment. We also learned that long-time Island residents were being dropped from voter registration rolls because cards sent to them to identify their
voting districts were being returned as undeliverable.

Local postmasters both maintained they did their best to shuttle mail back and forth between their Post Offices when they realized things had been mis-addressed. But customers said they still weren’t always getting their mail.

Despite a standing-room only local residents meeting, some adjustments and the ongoing efforts of the newspaper, many delivery problems still persist.