Two at Columbia Paper win statewide journalism awards

David Lee won a 3rd Place award with this “Spot News” photo in the statewide New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

COHOES—The awards in the New York Press Association’s 2019 Better Newspaper Contest were announced late last week and two journalists from The Columbia Paper were among the award recipients.

The Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting Division 1 Second Place went to Associate Editor Diane Valden and The Columbia Paper for Ms. Valden’s continuing coverage of Sal Cascino’s efforts to portray his Copake Valley “Farm” as an agricultural operation rather than the site where he illegally dumped tons of construction debris and solid waste without permits.

The judge in this category said the award went to her story because of “The great beginning telling the story’s result and then you filled in the many details.”

Ms. Valden has been covering the Cascino story for more than 20 years.

The other award, this one for Spot News Photo, Division 1, earned Third Place for photographer and reporter David Lee. The photo showed volunteer firefighter Chris Knable at the top of the Chatham ladder truck apparatus placing holiday lights on the village Christmas tree. A full moon shines overhead. The judge said of the photo, “Great timing and composition in this photo. It’s well-balanced and the ladder perfectly intersects the shot—not sure if it was cropped this way or shot this way, but either way, the photo is well done.”

The judges for these statewide awards are journalists from other states. The number of entries in each category is not disclosed but 173 newspapers in New York State participated and overall there were 2,918 entries. Division 1 includes papers with up to twice the circulation of The Columbia Paper.

These awards are normally presented at the association’s annual spring conference, but that event was canceled this year.

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