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Newsday wins 8 awards in Society of the Silurians journalism contest

The cover of the Newsday special section titled

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 staff members received eight awards in the Society of the Silurians Excellence in Journalism contest, including its top honor, the President's Choice Medallion, which went to "Pathway to Power," an investigation into the rise of political power broker Gary Melius.

The 30,000-word investigation, told through a 48-page special section and an extensive digital presentation, chronicled how Melius transformed himself from a onetime West Hempstead street tough to the owner of a Huntington castle that became Long Island’s unofficial political clubhouse.

The Silurians recognized the Newsday investigative team for "its extraordinary investigation that exposed a complex web of often corrupt ties between politicians and the business, law enforcement and legal communities on Long Island."

Reporters on the project were Sandra Peddie, Will Van Sant, Keith Herbert, Matt Clark, Gus Garcia-Roberts and Maura McDermott. 

Van Sant also was honored with the top award for Public Service Reporting for his investigation into nonfatal strangulation attacks at state-run or state-supervised facilities, including residential centers for those with special needs.

And photographer J. Conrad Williams Jr. won a top award, the Medallion for Sports Photography for his coverage of the women's final at the 2018 U.S. Tennis Open.

Reporter Delthia Ricks won a Merit Award for Science and Health Reporting for a story about cancer researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory identifying a new form of lung cancer.

Reporter Víctor Manuel Ramos was recognized with a Merit Award in Minority Affairs Reporting for his coverage of the MS-13 street gang, which authorities link to 17 slayings in Suffolk County from January 2016 to April 2017.

Reporter Jim Baumbach received a Merit Award for Sports Reporting and Commentary for his report that men's lacrosse players at the New York Institute of Technology displayed "subtle" declines in memory and slower cognitive reactions because of repeated hits to the head, raising concerns about the impact of such blows even if player is not diagnosed with a concussion.

Photographer Thomas A. Ferrara received two Merit Awards, one for breaking news and one for features. The breaking news image was of firefighters extinguishing a car fire during a snowstorm. The features honor was for Ferrara's exploration of the men and women on Long Island who perform or practice as mermaids and mermen.

“It’s great to see the deep reporting and storytelling as well as the strong visual talents of our colleagues being honored by the Society of the Silurians," said Deborah Henley, editor of Newsday. "We’re all very proud of their work and these prestigious awards.”

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