The Newsday multimedia team entry "A Season of Protests," covering nearly 200 Black Lives Matter protests last year across Long Island and New York City, has been named the winner of the Excellence in Visual Journalism category in the prestigious Scripps Howard Foundation Excellence in Journalism competition for 2020.
A panel of veteran journalists and media industry leaders selected the final list of winners in this year’s competition from nearly 900 entries.
The Newsday entry was named over finalists from the Los Angeles Times and The Oregonian of Portland, Oregon. Newsday also was a finalist in the Excellence in Environmental Reporting category for its investigative series "The Grumman Plume: Decades of Deceit."
That category was won by The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina, for a 10-part series on tidal flooding called "Rising Waters."
"The Newsday multimedia team is honored to receive the Scripps Howard Award for Visual Journalism," John Keating, director of multimedia newsgathering for Newsday, said. "Our dedicated photographers covered close to 200 demonstrations last summer. 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. Their outstanding work helped Newsday readers understand and experience an important story."
Coverage as part of "A Season of Protests" included what competition judges called "strong, compelling images," noting: "Photographers’ use of composition, different angles, use of light and the intensely intimate moments that captured the emotion and drama close up."
Among scenes praised by judges were footage of a street filled with protesters, face down on the pavement, hands behind their backs, raindrops falling on them, as well as a montage of a burning NYPD patrol car, the bloodied face of a protester, a clenched Black fist — and a protester and a police officer locked in an emotional, caring embrace.
"Look at the faces," Scripps Washington Deputy Bureau Chief Keith Summa said, "and you know the pain and you know the story."
As Akili Ramsess, executive director of the National Press Photographers Association, said of the Newsday entry: "This shows, more than anything, the value of the visual journalist because we can't phone it in, we can't work out of our homes. The photographers literally put lives, their lives, on the line."
As Robert Cassidy, Newsday's executive director of multimedia, said: "The images that our team produced under last year's extraordinary circumstances are a testament to their talent and dedication to visual storytelling. Their work during this time underscores the importance of local journalism and the commitment we have to our audience."
The Scripps Howard Foundation supports philanthropic causes, with "a special emphasis on journalism education, excellence in journalism and childhood literacy."
See the full collection of award-winning photography by exploring the gallery above.