Riverhead grad grabs 3 Emmys

PHOTO COURTESY OF BARBARA PELCZAR | Kenny Pelczar originally of Calverton accepts one of three Emmy awards for photojournalism April 3.

As Shlomo Weiss tells a News 12 Westchester reporter of the horrific sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his own father in the 1980s, images of children’s toys strewn about a yard conjure a vision of the childhood Mr. Weiss never had.

While the reporter talks of how pedophiles in Kiryas Joel, an insular Hasidic Jewish community, are seldom prosecuted for their crimes, an image of a sign that reads “Please drive slow, we love our children” appears on screen. And as Mr. Weiss, now 36, confronts his father for the first time in 10 years, the camera focuses on the older man’s expression and the cigarette hanging from his lip.

Those visual images juxtaposed with Mr. Weiss’s heartbreaking tale is one of the reasons why photojournalist Kenny Pelczar now has three winged golden statues sitting on his bookshelf.

“It’s a story that, as a journalist, you pride yourself on telling,” he said

Click to see the News 12 report

Mr. Pelczar, originally from Calverton and now living in Westchester County, won three awards from the National Academy of Television for Arts and Sciences New York chapter, more commonly known as Emmys, during the 54th annual awards ceremony April 3. He was honored in the religious news, arts story and hard news categories among other well-known New York TV journalists. Fox 5 News anchor Ernie Anastos received the lifetime achievement award, presented by former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden. The ceremony will air on Time Warner Cable CUNY-TV on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The 2002 Riverhead High School grad was nominated in five categories. He was also nominated for an Emmy award last year.
Though this was not the first time Mr. Pelczar has been honored — he has received awards from the New York Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists as well as Edward R. Murrow awards — he said that four years ago, he barely knew how to operate a camera.

“When I started, I was greener than a shamrock,” he said. After graduating from Hofstra University in 2007 with a degree in economics, a professor told him of an opening at News 12 Westchester. He jumped at the chance.

“I fully embraced it,” he said.

He said he spent the next few years perfecting his craft and never settling for mediocrity while reporting a story. He’s filmed everything from presidential arrivals to local breaking news to rental car company parking ticket scams.

“I realized I was good at it when I no longer had to think about it,” he said. “It kind of becomes second nature to you.”

Mr. Pelczar has since left News 12 and now works as director of photography for Ventana Publications. His still photography and some videos are displayed on his website, www.kennethpelczar.com.

To other aspiring photographers, Mr. Pelczar offers this advice: “If you devote yourself to what you enjoy, there really is no way you can fail.”

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