A team of Newsday photographers collectively captured first place in a prestigious photography contest for their work chronicling Black Lives Matter protests on Long Island and New York City.
Pictures of the Year International, or POYI, awarded Newsday’s photojournalists the top honor in the category of "Local Team Picture Story." The entry consisted of 18 pictures by Newsday photographers in a series dubbed "Justice for George Floyd."
The winning photographers are: J. Conrad Williams Jr., Alejandra Villa Loarca, Charles Eckert, Thomas A. Ferrara and Steve Pfost.
The contest was part of POYI 78th competition. It is affiliated with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism and recognizes outstanding photojournalism, online presentation and visual editing created or published in 2020, according to POYI’s website.
Lynden R. Steele, the photojournalism director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute, said in an email Thursday that a panel of professional photographers unanimously determined Newsday’s photos were the best in its category.
One of the award’s judges, Cheriss May, an independent photographer and adjunct professor at Howard University, discussed the contest during a webinar on Wednesday. May said Newsday’s winning images are "powerful" and could stand alone, but collectively they produced "a strong showing to tell a story."
John Keating, Newsday’s director of multimedia news gathering, said in a statement Thursday: "It is an honor for Newsday photographers to be recognized by Pictures of the Year International. Our team fanned out across Long Island and New York City covering dozens of demonstrations over the summer."
He added: "There were risks involved. The threat of the COVID-19 virus being spread through large crowds was always present, and a number of the marches turned violent. Despite the dangers, Newsday photographers continued to work long days and often late into the night. The pictures produced helped Newsday readers understand the raw emotion behind the uprising."
Some of Newsday’s honored photos included a picture from Villa Loarca showing NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan hugging a woman in early June; a Williams photo taken about two weeks later in Roosevelt of a demonstrator holding a megaphone, raising his left hand while protesters march behind him, and a Pfost photo from early June taken in Central Islip.
Pfost’s image shows a coordinated and symbolic demonstration of protesters laying on the ground with their hands behind their backs, as if under arrest.
To see the entire award-winning series, explore the gallery below.