The cover of the Newsday special section titled "Pathway to...

The cover of the Newsday special section titled "Pathway to Power" on Feb. 25, 2018. The 48-page section won the New York State Associated Press Association top honor for Investigative & Watchdog Reporting. Credit: Newsday

Newsday won 26 awards from the annual New York State Associated Press Association competition, including 13 top honors for investigations, public service, business reporting, sports writing, opinion pieces, features, photography, video, social media and digital presentations.

The top Investigations & Watchdog Reporting award went to "Pathway to Power," a 30,000-word series about the rise of political power broker Gary Melius from a onetime West Hempstead street tough to the owner of a Huntington castle that became Long Island's unofficial political clubhouse. The project was reported and written by Gus Garcia-Roberts, Keith Herbert, Sandra Peddie and Will Van Sant with contributions from Aisha Al-Muslim, Matt Clark, Paul LaRocco, Maura McDermott and Adam Playford. It was edited by Martin Gottlieb and Alan Finder.

Reporter Paul LaRocco's series "Public Space Private Benefit," about how Nassau's open-space purchases benefited insiders, won the association's Public Service award.

"It is an honor to see so many of our colleagues recognized for their outstanding journalism this year by the New York State Associated Press Association," Newsday Editor Deborah Henley said. "These awards illustrate their commitment to deep local reporting and engaging storytelling. It also is so rewarding to see the winners span investigations, watchdog reporting, public service work, business, sports, features, social media, editorials, editorial column writing, video, digital storytelling and spot, feature and sports photos." 

The awards were announced Saturday night at the association's annual banquet in Saratoga Springs.

Other Newsday winners were:

Investigations: Second place, Will Van Sant, "Hands to the Neck."

Column: Second place, Michael Dobie.

Feature Story: First place, Erica Marcus, "Beyond General Tso's Chicken"; second place, Corin Hirsch, "Blue Oyster Cult."

Editorial Writing: Second place, Lane Filler.

Business Writing: First place, James T. Madore, "The Impact of Tariffs on Long Island Companies"; second place, Carrie Mason-Draffen, "The Opioid Crisis at Work."

Sports Story: First place, Jim Baumbach, "High School Sports."

Sports Column: First place, Barbara Barker; second place, Bob Glauber.

Spot News Photo: First place, Thomas A. Ferrara, "Blizzard Blaze"; second place, Steve Pfost, "Recycling Fire."

Feature Photo: First place, Thomas A. Ferrara, "Emma's Kiss"; second place, Alejandra Villa Loarca, "A Song of Praise."

Sports Photo: First place, J. Conrad Williams Jr., "Women's Final, US Open Championships"; second place, Thomas A. Ferrara, "Farewell Captain."

Photo Story or Online Gallery: First place, Thomas A. Ferrara, "Making a Splash, a Glimpse Into the World of Long Island's Mermaid Culture"; second place, Alejandra Villa Loarca, "A Beacon of Hope — Behind the Scenes With the Green Machine."

Video: First place, "We are Brentwood"; second place, "When You're Ready."

Digital Storytelling: First place, "Pathway to Power"; second place, Rachel Weiss, Tulika Bose and Anahita Pardiwalla, "A Hijab, a Turban, a Beard: What Aren't You Seeing?"

Social Media Effort: First place, "Day in the Life of Long Island"; second place, "LI Parents; It Takes an Island."

The Associated Press is a nonprofit news cooperative representing newspapers and broadcast stations across the United States.

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