Blank Slate Media took home eight awards in categories ranging from design to reporting during last weekend’s Better Newspaper Contest hosted by the New York Press Association.
“This year is particularly gratifying because we did well in almost every area we’re judged,” said Steven Blank, editor and publisher of Blank Slate Media.
He noted that the paper won for editorial pages, ads, special sections and reporting.
“It’s a verification of the quality journalism that we’re providing the community,” Blank said.
Among the winners was Great Neck reporter Janelle Clausen, who won honorable mention for Rookie Reporter of the Year.
Clausen, who has been with the paper for about a year, said she was surprised given the quality of the competition.
The paper also won first place for Best Small Space Ad.
Yvonne Farley, a designer for Blank Slate Media, took home first place for Best Special Section Cover and second place for Best House Ad.
The paper also won second place for the Fall Special section.
Matt Bodkin won honorable mention for Best Editorial Cartoon.
A former reporter for Blank Slate Media, Noah Manskar, won third place for Best Front Page for the Williston Times.
Manskar, who took home third place for Rookie Reporter of the Year last year, also won honorable mention for Best News or Feature Series and Best News or Feature story.
In addition to the contest, the conference features different speakers and lectures for the newspaper staff to attend.
“Pretty much everything about the convention has inspired me to keep getting better at reporting,” Clausen said. “The people here really make a difference.”
Lincoln Millstein, the key speaker during Saturday’s luncheon, even gave the Manhasset Times a shout out.
Millstein called the Manhasset Times, one of Blank Slate Media’s six weekly papers in the Town of North Hempstead, a “great newspaper.”
Blank said the praise was meaningful coming from Millstein – the senior vice president and special adviser to the CEO of the Hearst Corp., who previously spearheaded development of The Boston Globe’s website and was COO of The New York Times.
Clausen said she is thankful to Blank, her editor, for giving her the chance to report on a wide array of topics.
Clausen covers education, politics, crime and more in Great Neck and the Town of North Hempstead.
“At Blank Slate, there are four reporters covering for six papers and multiple beats – in other words, we have to report on a lot of things,” Clausen said. “But I love being able to write about pretty much everything. There are so many stories I get to experience as a general assignment reporter and right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Clausen said she has found education coverage seems to come easy for her and said politics can also be fun.
She added that she also likes to report on other local events, such as children’s art galleries and award winners.
“I guess my preference varies from day to day, depending on my mood and workload,” Clausen said.
The convention is also a chance for people in the industry to learn from their peers, Blank said.
In the media business, Blank said, companies have to constantly evolve.
“That’s kind of the fun and excitement of running this type of business, because it is dynamic,” Blank said. “It is challenging, and it’s always changing, so you need to be learning and improving every year and all the time.”