FIN Wins at Press Club Long Island Media Awards Dinner

OBPD Officer Andrew Becher proudly shows off his PCLI Media Awards trophy. Photo by Shoshanna McCollum.

At the Press Club Long Island (PCLI) Media Awards Banquet held at Fox Hollow in Woodbury on June 15, Fire Island News received three awards on behalf of two columnists and one dedicated reader-contributor.

In reverse-alphabetical order they are as follows:

FIN History columnist Christopher Verga won Third Place in the History Narrative category for “Cuban Giants: First Black Baseball League,” published on July 8, 2022. The little-known story of this Babylon-based 19th century professional team, which predated the Negro Leagues, we believed was worthy of recognition on a wider scope and are glad that the panel of judges were in agreement with us. A prolific author and professor with both John Jay and Suffolk County Community colleges, Verga joined the FIN team last summer. This is our first PCLI win in the competitive History category.

Eye on Fire Island columnist Timothy Bolger won First Place in the Government & Politics narrative category for “NY Audit Slams OB Over Clerk-Treasurer Pay.” This was a special report Tim prepared off-season, which was published on on Oct. 21, 2022. Fire Island News was among the first Long Island-based media outlets to break the story and none covered it as skillfully as he did. Getting his start with Fire Island News shortly after graduating from college, Bolger now is a multi-award-winning investigative reporter on Long Island, also serving as Editor-in-Chief for both Long Island Press and Dan’s Papers, where he picked up three additional awards on the same evening. This is the third win in this category for Fire Island News.

Ocean Beach Police Officer Andrew Becher has been contributing photographs for Fire Island News periodically over the years. However, when he showed us an example of his drone photography – a shark eating bunker fish in nearby waters offshore as part of the shark surveillance program he was initiating in partnership with the Ocean Beach Lifeguard Department – we knew we were seeing something special. We published an article about the program on Aug. 19, 2022, featuring Becher and this program. One of his photos won first place in the Drone Photography category, a second win in this category for our publication. In addition to being an OBPD officer and a licensed pilot, Becher recently retired from a career of over 20 years as a science teacher with Hauppauge School District.

Last April Fire Island News also won two journalism awards on the state level with the New York Press Association, making a total haul of five awards in 2022.

Yet no awards competition is complete without reciprocity, as journalism contests are judged by volunteers from sister professional organizations out of state. Former FIN photographer and social media editor Robert Sherman answered the call and represented Fire Island News, serving as a judge for the Colorado Press Association.

“I always find critiquing and curating work created by others in the field to be quite exciting and informative,” wrote Sherman. “And there’s a lot of really great work out there. It was, in fact, quite a difficult task.”