In its milestone 125th anniversary year, the Jewish Exponent received 15 state awards between the annual Society of Professional Journalists Keystone Pro Chapter's "Spotlight Contest" and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's Keystone Awards.
"Best of all, each and every reporter and editor on staff garnered at least one award, illustrating the team effort that goes into producing the Jewish Exponent," said executive editor Lisa Hostein.
Awards for both competitions were presented during a Pennsylvania Press Conference in Gettysburg over the weekend.
While most journalism contests pit newspapers against publications of similar size, the SPJ contest only has two categories: daily and non-daily. Though the Exponent lost its two-year title as the best overall non-daily newspaper, it was still given a third place honor in that category.
Features editor Michael Elkin won first place in sports reporting for "And Here's the Pitch!", a feature exploring Jewish ties to baseball. In the same category, staff writer Bryan Schwartzman took third place for "Players Return as Coaches, See Game From a New Angle."
In spot news, freelance writer Mordechai Shinefeld won second place for "Kol Nidre Adds Traditional Touch to 'Occupy' Protests," while senior editor Robert Leiter took third place for "In Historic Move, JPS Enters Into Partnerships." Leiter also won second place for headline writing with "Cottage Cheese: Curdling Reminder of Rising Prices."
Staff writer Deborah Hirsch took second place for her feature story "Going Meshugah for the Zumba Craze." Likewise, editor Hostein took second for editorial writing.
Lastly, freelance photographer Greg Bezanis won first place for his images of visitors and executives touring the National Museum of American Jewish History as part of a story evaluating the institution's first year in its new home on Independence Mall.
In the Keystones: Leiter won first place for feature beat reporting with "Politics of Slaughter," "A Land of Grey Specters," and " Author Takes a Village to Build a Book." Next in line with second place in the same category was Elkin, who was cited for "Theaters Now Do 'Jewish'," "Comic Relief — X-Raying the Holocaust on Screen," and "Aargh and Oy."
The paper swept three other second-place awards: Hostein for editorial writing, Hirsch for her news feature story "After 30-Year Pursuit, Octogenarian Finally Gets Much-Wanted Degree," and the entire staff for niche publication. Hirsch also won an honorable mention for her summertime series on Jewish overnight camp.
Said Hostein, the "whopping total" of 15 awards from the state "underscores the enduring quality of the journalism we provide to our community."