Newsday photographer Alejandra Villa Loarca won an NABJ excellence award for...

Newsday photographer Alejandra Villa Loarca won an NABJ excellence award for this photo of friends Ashanti Ferguson and her son Jaxon, 1, left, and Aaliyah Taylor and her son Raiden, 1, cooling off at Geiger Park in Wyandanch on July 6, 2021. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Newsday journalists combined to win four Salute to Excellence Awards at the National Association of Black Journalists convention last week in Las Vegas.

Veteran Newsday investigative reporter Sandra Peddie won for feature story for newsrooms with staffs between 101 and 200 for her exhaustive look at the final months of Jo'Anna Bird and the failed efforts of the Nassau County Police Department to protect the Westbury mother. Bird was murdered by her boyfriend Valdez Cruz despite seeking repeated help from police and securing orders of protection from the court. 

Newsday investigative reporter Jim Baumbach won for news story for newsrooms with staffs between 101 and 200 for his deep examination of the hiring practices of Long Island police departments. The story found that since 2012 the Nassau and Suffolk police departments rejected Black and Hispanic candidates at rates that exceeded a federally established bench mark used to detect evidence of unlawful discrimination.

Newsday photographer Alejandra Villa Loarca won in photojournalism for best single image of two Suffolk County mothers holding their infant children while under a sprinkler in July 2021 at Geiger Park in Wyandanch.

More than two dozen Newsday staff members, led by producers Monte R. Young, Jeffrey L. Williams and Robert Cassidy, were honored for long-form television feature for "On the Shoulders of Giants."

The video, released in February 2021 during Black History Month, interviewed eight prominent Long Island social justice activists, including those that played key roles in the U.S. civil rights movement and the new generation lending their voices to the current racial reckoning and push for social justice and equality.

“We’re so proud to see the work of Alejandra, Sandra, Jim and the more than two dozen people who contributed to 'On the Shoulders of Giants' recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists,” said Deborah Henley, editor of Newsday. “Our colleagues’ coverage of our community represents strong local journalism at its best, from investigations to video and photography.”

Founded in 1975, the National Association of Black Journalists has more than 4,000 members and is the largest organization for journalists of color in the nation.

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