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'Jewish Exponent' Wins 13 City, State Journalism Awards

July 3, 2008 By:
Jewish Exponent Staff
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The staff of the Jewish Exponent earned 13 honors as the state and city press associations handed out awards for the best journalism published in 2007.

The Exponent won first place for general news coverage for its May 10 feature "They've Seen the Light," by Ryan Teitman, from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's Keystone Awards. The piece by the former Exponentstaff writer reported on efforts made by local residents to help their apartment building become "greener" by saving energy.

Also receiving a Keystone was Exponentliterary editor Robert Leiter, who was given second place in the category of feature beat reporting for his book reviews.

The reviews from his weekly "Speaking Volumes" column cited for the award were his Feb. 1 "Amazed at Their Beauty," on three recent volumes of poetry; the April 26 "Facing Death," about an Italian family at Auschwitz; the May 10 "Not for the Average Reader," about the output of an independent and enterprising New York publishing house; the July 12 "Mother Knows Best," about the impact of parental discipline; the Nov. 15 "How Does Your Garden Grow?" about gardens in wartime; and the Nov. 29 "Quirky as They Come" about an unusual publishing venture.

This was Leiter's third Keystone of his career.

Also garnering a Keystone was the Exponent's special supplement "120 Years of Jewish Life in Greater Philadelphia," which commemorated the newspaper's 120th anniversary. The 142-page magazine that was edited by Eric Fisher was given an honorable mention in the category of niche publications.

Exponent executive editor Jonathan Tobin won first place in the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Journalists Spotlight Award competition for commentary.

The pieces from his weekly "A Matter of Opinion" column cited for the award were his June 28 "Sexy Ladies Won't Sell a State," about the Israeli government's questionable judgment in sponsoring a photo spread by an American men's magazine; the Aug. 30 "Golden Ticket to Oblivion" that discussed a Florida charter school and the expansion of the National Museum of American Jewish History as diversions from the need to fund Jewish day schools; the Sept. 13 "Lobby Lies Make a Comeback," about the willingness of some, including radio talk-show host Michael Smerconish, to treat the Walt-Mearsheimer attacks on American Jews as legitimate; the Oct. 18 "America's Silver Platter" that paid tribute to Americans serving their country during wartime; and the Nov. 29 "Dreaming of a Green Chanukah?" about environmentalists trying to take over the holiday.

Tobin also won second place for feature writing for his Oct. 18 "Philly Native Leads Navy's 'Truman' Into Action," about Capt. Herm Shelanski, the commander of the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier. The awards were the 12th and 13th Spotlights of his career, and the seventh time that he has won for commentary.

Also earning a Spotlight was Robert Leiter in the category of headline writing for his witty " 'U.S. Male' Takes Wing, Then Munches His Way to Glory." This headline for a Feb. 15 story, about an entrant in the annual Philadelphia "Wing Bowl" chicken-wing eating contest, gained a third-place honor. This is Leiter's fifth Spotlight award.

The Greater Philadelphia chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awardedExponent political correspondent Bryan Schwartzman third place in the category of political reporting for his Jan. 11 "Young Rep Reaches Across Aisle," about Democratic State Rep. Joshua Shapiro's role in the election of a new speaker of the Pennsylvania House.

Robert Leiter was also honored by the Philadelphia SPJ for his book reviews, winning second place in the category of criticism for three of his pieces: his May 31 "Always Something Novel," about a collection of critical essays by New Yorker writer Joan Acocella; his already cited April 26 review "The Face of Death"; and the Oct. 25 "Excellence Has No Sex," which considers the work of experimental artist Eva Hesse. This is Leiter's sixth career Philly SPJ.

The Exponent also garnered five awards in the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Awards.

Bryan Schwartzman won second place in the category of business coverage for his July 26 "Room to Rendezvous," about the efforts of Atlantic City, N.J., to attract Jewish convention business and participants. This was his second PPA award.

Former staff writer Jared Shelly won third place in the category of sports coverage for his Sept. 13 "Sports? At This Time of Year?" about Jewish athletes coping with the scheduling of events during the High Holidays.

Jonathan Tobin won third place in the category of newspaper writing for his Oct. 18 aircraft-carrier feature. The honor was his ninth career PPA award.

And in an unusual twist, managing editor Carin M. Smilk and Ryan Teitman tied for honorable mention in the category of special subject writing.

Smilk was cited for her May 31 feature "No Room Left for Nomadism," about the current situation of Israeli Bedouins. This was the fourth PPA award she has won in her career. Teitman was honored for his May 10 "They've Seen the Light."

The winners were presented with their plaques and certificates during various award ceremonies held within the past month.

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