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News-Review a finalist for national general excellence award

For the second consecutive year, the Riverhead News-Review is a finalist for the National Newspaper Association’s award for general excellence. 

The paper, which won the honor last year, is nominated along with Times Review Media Group’s other two publications — The Suffolk Times and Shelter Island Reporter. It’s the first time all three papers, which are each in different circulation divisions, are finalists for the national award in the same year.

Winners and finalists in the contest were announced Monday and the News-Review won two more awards.

Content director Grant Parpan won a first place award for best breaking news story for his deadline coverage of the unraveling of the trial in the murder of Riverhead’s Demitri Hampton. Mr. Parpan broke the story from the courthouse on the paper’s deadline day.

“Quality writing done in a timely manner,” the contest judges noted.

News-Review editor Joe Werkmeister and reporter Kelly Zegers shared the second place award for best health story for their special report on preventing teen suicide following a Riverhead high school student’s death last year. The piece featured interviews with local parents of teens who died by suicide and mental health experts.

“Well-written story on a difficult topic, but one that is important in every community,” the judges said. “The details about [the deceased’s] life make it very personal.”

The Suffolk Times claimed several awards for stories that were also published in the News-Review.

The awards for investigative reporting and video journalism were awarded to Times Review executive editor Steve Wick, Mr. Parpan and content producer Krysten Massa for their multimedia investigation into the 1966 disappearance of Cutchogue’s Louise Pietrewicz. The report prompted police to take a fresh look at the case and Ms. Pietrewicz’s remains were found earlier this year in Southold.

“Mind blown,” wrote the judges. “This was excellent — should be on television! It absolutely brings multimedia journalism to a new level.”

Mr. Werkmeister also claimed a first place feature writing award for a story about Bob Jester’s fight to walk again after the former Riverhead teacher’s fall from a ladder left him partially paralyzed in 2016.

“A powerful story of an intriguing man coping well with a situation in which many would give up,” the judges said. “A well-written, emotional read. Makes you want to get to know the man. Others obviously think highly of him. Reader is hooked from the opening sentences. A strong read.”

There were 1,607 total entries in the Better Newspaper Contest this year and awards were won by 115 member newspapers in 38 states. In total, Times Review Media Group won 11 awards.

The general excellence winners will be announced at the organization’s convention in September. The News-Review is one of four finalists for weekly newspapers with a circulation between 3,000 and 6,000 print readers. The other finalists are the Buffalo Bulletin in Buffalo, Wy.; The Galena Gazzette in Galena, Ill.; and the Hutchinson Leader in Hutchinson, Minn.