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Newsday takes top honors in New York Press Club awards

Kai Wagner, aka Mermaid Pearl, swims in 2018

Kai Wagner, aka Mermaid Pearl, swims in 2018 in an exhibit at the Long Island Aquarium. Newsday's Thomas A. Ferrara won a New York Press Club award Wednesday in the feature photo category for his "Mermaids of Long Island" coverage. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Newsday journalists were awarded 13 prizes by the New York Press Club, the organization announced Wednesday, including its top award — the Gold Keyboard.

That prestigious prize went to the publication for an exhaustive piece outlining how a Long Island businessman became a formidable figure in local politics.

“Newsday is the major winner in the latest New York Press Club Awards for Journalism,” the club said in a news release. “The Long Island outlet won the 2019 Gold Keyboard Award, the competition’s highest, for “Pathway to Power,” an investigation into the rise of political power broker Gary Melius.”

The series was reported by Sandra Peddie, Gus Garcia-Roberts, Keith Herbert, Will Van Sant, Aisha Al-Muslim, Matt Clark, Paul LaRocco, Maura McDermott and Adam Playford.

Newsday’s editor, Deborah Henley said: “The 30,000-word investigation chronicled the rise of power broker Gary Melius and exposed the complex web that is Long Island’s political system. Other awards highlighted colleagues’ strong beat reporting, entertainment and food coverage, watchdog work, spot news and event coverage, sports reporting and photo and video storytelling in Newsday and on”

Alfonso Castillo’s "LIRR Transportation Stories" won an award for continuing coverage; Thomas A. Ferrara’s "Mermaids of Long Island" won in the feature photo category and his “Blizzard Blaze” won for spot news photo; Jeffrey Basinger, Arnold Miller, Chris Ware, Raychel Brightman, Randee Daddona, Matt Golub and Caroline Curtin were awarded in the documentary category for "Life on the Bays."

Glenn Gamboa’s "Billy Joel talks Madison Square Garden residency ahead of 100th show" won in entertainment news; "Able," which was completed by Newsday’s Ware, Megan Miller, Jessica Kelley, Robert Cassidy, Arnold Miller and Basinger won in the feature video category; Erica Marcus’ "LI Supermarket Stocks Food From Around the World" took an award in the food writing category; and Corin Hirsch won a food writing award for the magazine entry “FeedMe magazine: Blue Oyster Cult.”

In political coverage, Van Sant’s "Hands To The Neck" won an award. “Power On Trial,” written and reported by Nicole Fuller, Robert E. Kessler, Chau Lam, Bridget Murphy, Emily Ngo, Andrew Smith and Joye Brown won in the special event reporting category. In the sports category, Jim Baumbach won for “Cuomo to announce Islanders-Coliseum deal Monday, sources say.” Newsday staff took an award in the spot news-Internet category with "Power on Trial: Mangano-Venditto Corruption Case."

The contest drew over 530 entries and recognized other winners in 28 categories from outlets including TV, radio, newspapers, websites, magazines and newswires in New York City and around the country, the club said.

Awards will be presented on June 3 at 7 p.m. at The Water Club in Manhattan.

"This contest proves there are a lot of hardworking journalists doing exceptional work," said Jane Tillman Irving, president of the New York Press Club, which was founded in July 1948 and comprises professionals from all news media platforms, as well as practitioners in communications, public relations and public affairs. "Our profession remains strong."

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