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Newsday garners four NY Press Club awards

Newsday has captured four of the New York Press Club's annual awards.

In the 2012 competition, the daily won for Alfonso A. Castillo's beat reporting on the Long Island Rail Road; Tom Rock and Stephen Haynes' story on the alarming rise of concussions in one of the Island's most popular sports; photographer Alejandra Villa's coverage of Marisa Carney, 5, who has a rare brain disorder; and the staff's front page and headline "Blunder and Lightning," about how attempted repairs of a lightning strike instead caused a shutdown of the LIRR.

"We're all very proud of our colleagues and pleased that the New York Press Club is recognizing this work for being among New York's best," said Debbie Henley, editor of Newsday.

The club said it received almost 400 entries of last year's work from 58 media outlets. The 2012 awards were announced Thursday and will be presented June 11 in Manhattan.

In the continuing-coverage category, Castillo was recognized for his in-depth writing on the LIRR and finding stories that were slightly off the beaten track. He detailed how the lightning strike exposed failures in a $56 million signal system the railroad had touted as the future of train movement. Another article went back to 1920 to show how antiquated union work rules were costing the LIRR more than $2 million annually.

The sports story by Rock and Haynes showed how concussion injuries are a hot topic beyond just football. They noticed that girl lacrosse players were wearing helmets, but that the rules differed on protective gear for boys' and girls' lacrosse.

Photographer Villa followed Marisa for months, as she practiced ballet, played on a swing and did other activities, all tethered by a tube to a portable breathing machine.

Newsday's "Blunder and Lightning" cover used a photo illustration of the front of a train car and a bolt of lightning; the story detailed how a programming error turned delays into a catastrophic LIRR shutdown.

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