Those who attended this past Thursday’s Winged Foot Scholar-Athlete Award banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Naples were treated to full-color portraits of high school seniors in action.
A dozen finalists for the annual award were depicted running, throwing, stretching and catching on the two billboard-sized video screens that framed the awards dais and speaker stand that had just featured international soccer star Brandi Chastain, the keynote speaker for the evening. The photographs, used to introduce the 12 students and their extraordinary accomplishments, were the work of Michel Fortier.
Fortier is the Naples Daily News’s director of photography. His portraits of the student athletes were a testament to the national reputation the Daily News has earned when it comes to photography.
Each year when the judging is complete for the annual National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism competition you can expect to find familiar newspaper names:
The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Virginian Pilot, Palm Beach Post, Naples Daily News.
We were there again this year, winning a second-place award for Best Use of Photography for newspapers in the 75,000 circulation category. The Herald, a tabloid newspaper in Jasper, Ind., which also has long been known for producing outstanding photojournalism, finished first.
The Daily News also was honored with a second-place award for section-front photo editing. Big and small newspapers were heaped together in this part of the national competition.
The Palm Beach Post was awarded both first places in this category. Receiving honorable mention recognition behind the Post and the Daily News were the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
I have no problem thumping the chest about such national recognition. It’s common knowledge around the newsroom that photojournalism isn’t my specialty, so I don’t have to be humble. The reason we have a national reputation for great newspaper photography rests with Fortier and Eric Strachan, our senior managing editor. Strachan started at the Daily News three decades ago as a staff photographer, won his share of shooting awards and went on to build our reputation as a great place for young photojournalists to apply their skills.
Two of those young photojournalists will be leaving us next month.
The first is Lexey Swall, who has been taking award-winning photographs for the Daily News for nearly a decade. In 2006 she received an honorable mention for photographer of the year in the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest. She also has won numerous awards in Florida journalism competitions, but more importantly her photographs have helped us tell important and compelling stories.
The second is Greg Kahn, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist and the 2010 NPPA Photojournalist of the Year. Kahn, along with a photographer from the New York Times and one from the Los Angeles Times, were finalists for the feature photography Pulitzer last year. His photographs captured the impact the recession was having on residents of Southwest Florida. Although the L.A. Times photographer ended up winning the Pulitzer, we’re confident Kahn will get other shots at a Pulitzer.
Swall and Kahn will be taking their skills to Washington, D.C., to test the freelance market and the possibility of covering major news events on the world stage.
They will be sorely missed, but we have two talented shooters ready to join the staff.
The first is Corey Perrine, who has won a half-dozen regional and national photojournalism awards. He will be joining us from the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska.
The second is William DeShazer. He, too, has national and regional photojournalism awards on his resume. He will be joining us from the Chicago Tribune.
Look for their names under Daily News photos beginning next month.
Lewis is executive editor of the Daily News.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.