(June 11, 2010, 4 p.m.) — The Leader newspaper, which publishes DOWNtime magazine, was given 29 awards for its editorial and advertising content in 2009. Among the many wins were more than a dozen first-place finishes.
The Garden State Journalists awarded The Leader the prestigious Hildy Johnson prize, the organization’s top accolades for best print or broadcast story of the year. The recognition was given for The Leader’s exposé on North Arlington politics, entitled the “Dirty Diner Deal.” The story, which detailed a secretive meeting between borough Democrats and one sole Republican, appeared on the front page of an October issue in The Leader. Editor in Chief John Soltes and Senior Reporters Susan C. Moeller and Alexis Tarrazi wrote the piece.
The newspaper received nine other awards from the Garden State Journalists, including first-place recognition for Print General News, Print Feature, Print Investigative, Print Personality Interview and Photography Feature. The Leader was also given second place for Photography Portrait & Personality, second place for Photography Feature and honorable mention for Print Personality Interview.
The New Jersey Press Association awarded the newspaper’s advertising and editorial departments with several accolades as well. The infamous “Dirty Diner Deal” took third place in the News Writing category, while a story about the crackdown on corruption in the Meadowlands garnered second place in the same category. Tarrazi’s profile of Carlstadt resident Vivian Harris, titled “The Boxer,” won second place in the Feature Writing category.
The advertising department received two first-place finishes for Best External Classified Promotion Idea and Best Free Standing Insert. The department also placed third for Best Free Standing Insert.
Of all the accolades, the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists gave the newspaper the most awards, totaling 13, with several first-place finishes. Among the wins were a third-place finish in Profile Writing for Soltes’ portrait of Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, and a first-place finish in the Enterprise Reporting category for an exposé on the Williams Center in Rutherford.
Soltes was also honored for Review Writing (first-place award) and the editorial team of Soltes, Moeller and Tarrazi was awarded second place in Investigative Reporting, again for the “Dirty Diner Deal.”
John Rosa, The Leader’s editorial cartoonist, won second and third place, while Soltes took first place for one of his editorials on the opinion page. The team of Soltes, Tarrazi and Moeller won first place for Deadline Reporting, while W.L. Bill Allen Jr. took first place for Sports Photojournalism. Winie Varillas, production and design manager of The Leader, won first place along with Soltes for Front Page Layout — the winning entry was for the annual Earth Day issue. Finally, Soltes won first for Headline Writing.
In total, The Leader dominated the awards landscape for its 2009 work, with few, if any, news outlets receiving as many accolades. The “Pulse of the Meadowlands” is continuing to beat stronger than it ever has in the newspaper’s more than 100-year history.