BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The Village Sun racked up four awards in the New York Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest — including two awards for the paper’s coverage of the epic fight over the contentious East Side Coastal Resiliency project.
The awards, which covered the contest year of 2021, were handed out at NYPA’s spring conference in Saratoga Springs, New York, this past weekend — its first in person since 2019. The entries were judged by members of the Nebraska Press Association.
Lincoln Anderson, The Village Sun’s editor, won second place for Best News or Feature Series for his reporting on park activists’ struggle to stop the E.S.C.R. megaproject.
“Interesting ongoing coverage of efforts to save a beloved community park,” the judge for this category’s entries wrote.
The Village Sun’s entry included articles on the court fight by attorney Arthur Schwartz and former Councilmember Kathryn Freed to block the start of the $1.45 billion megaproject, the arrests of protesters seeking to do the same, a rally in support of the resiliency scheme by Councilmember Carlina Rivera and the Frontline Communities Coalition, including local public housing leaders, the installation of astroturf “throw rugs” at far-off Waterside Pier at E. 40th Street that were pitched as part of an interim replacement plan for the destruction of the 82-year-old, 46-acre East River Park and its nearly 1,000 mature trees, Mayor de Blasio’s frantic, round-the-clock, 24/7 tree-cutting in the southern half of East River Park as a key court decision on the lawsuit loomed and, finally, activists’ delivery of a severed tree trunk with “LAND BACK” written on it in red to Rivera’s door.
The city is demolishing the existing East River Park in order to rebuild it 8 feet to 10 feet higher to put it above the floodplain.
Anderson and arts writer John Pietaro teamed up to win second place for Best Obituaries. Anderson wrote about Doris Diether, the legendary Greenwich Village activist and Jane Jacobs ally, who died at 92 last September, while Pietaro’s obituary was on Dee Pop (Dimitri Papadopoulos), the punk/experimental drummer for the seminal Downtown band the Bush Tetras, who died last October at 65.
“This paper certainly wins kudos for # of obituaries. Wow,” the judge for this category wrote in his or her comments. “That said, content was just as impressive. Very extensive obituaries. Well done.”
The Village Sun’s winning entry included only the two articles above, but — explaining the judge’s “# of obituaries” comment — the paper also submitted two other entries in this category, including obituaries by Anderson on activist Chinatown photographer Corky Lee, Chelsea and Hudson River Park activists Robert Trentlyon and Ross Graham and housing activist Harriet Putterman, plus others by Paul DeRienzo on WBAI radio program host Bob Fass and gonzo poster paster William Depperman.
Anderson also won honorable mention for the Thomas G. Butson Award for Investigative and In-Depth Reporting, again, based on his reporting on the East River Park resiliency project. The award is named after the former editor of The Villager.
“Well-done piece on an important, often overlooked issue of coastal resiliency,” the judge wrote.
The Village Sun submitted the same 16 articles for this entry as for its winning entry about the park project in the Best News or Feature Series category. Also among them were reports on activists locking themselves to a tree in City Hall Park to try to persuade then-Council Speaker Corey Johnson to hold an emergency hearing on E.S.C.R. after new information came to light from unredacted pages of a “value engineering study” on the plan, a mocktails party — with drinks made from wild sumac from the park — calling out Rivera’s support for the project, a massive protest march in East River Park against the scheme, preservationists’ efforts to save the park’s historic Works Progress Administration buildings from demolition, City Council candidate Allie Ryan’s arrest trying to block the start of the park’s destruction and two suspiciously torched golf carts at the Brian Watkins Tennis Center.
In addition, Anderson and Mary Reinholz teamed up to win honorable mention for Coverage of Elections and Politics.
“Good coverage. Very readable,” the judge for this category succinctly wrote.
Reinholz’s two articles included one on leading Democrats and politicos weighing in on the mounting pressure for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign in the face of sexual-misconduct allegations, plus a profile of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa’s run for mayor on a platform that included no-kill animal shelters. Anderson had three articles in the entry, including a report on a real-estate super PAC backing Erik Bottcher for City Council but bashing Council candidate Christopher Marte, an election roundup report on Downtown races after last year’s June Democratic primaries and, finally, an article on Marte and his supporters declaring victory after the primary election and looking forward to a new era when Lower Manhattan’s District 1 would, for a change, have a councilmember aligned with his constituents on pressing issues, like development, rezoning, the Elizabeth Street Garden and the Chinatown “megajail.”
One hundred thirty-two community newspapers from around the state competed in the NYPA Better Newspaper Contest. Almost all of them have print versions, but The Village Sun was allowed to enter as a digital-only publication.
The Sag Harbor Express won the overall Stuart C. Dorman Award for taking home the most contest points in editorial categories.
The Village Sun was the only publication specifically focused on covering Downtown Manhattan to win awards in the contest.