Newspaper receives press awards

El Mensajero Católico won a total of 10 awards from two different press associations for work published in 2015.

The Catholic Press Association, which represents more than 600 Catholic publications in the United States and Canada, presented the newspaper with nine awards during its annual convention in St. Louis June 1-3. The New York Press Association, a trade organization representing the state’s nondaily community newspapers, presented El Mensajero with an award during the organization’s convention in Saratoga Springs April 8-9.

The newspaper received the following awards:


Best In-Depth Analysis: First place went to Staff Writer Annette Jiménez and former Staff Writer Amy Kotlarz for a yearlong series of stories on poverty in the Diocese of Rochester.

"Extraordinary coverage, worthy of a national newspaper," the judges wrote. "Properly sourced data accompanied by a reflection on Catholic values."

Best Online Presentation of Multimedia Visuals: Staff Photographer Jeff Witherow received a second-place award for a video on "Barakoa: The African Masquerade," an exhibition of masks, music and dance representing Latin American, Caribbean and African cultures.

"Well-researched video that goes beyond the impact of the images to discuss significance and historical context," the judges said.

Best Newspaper Website: Third place went to

"Good use of video and multimedia to enhance stories and content," the judges remarked.

Individual Excellence — Writer: Jiménez won first place for a body of work from 2015.

"These pieces are very well researched and put together. Very difficult subject matter is analyzed in a fair and simple manner. Annette Jiménez’s approach of personalizing her stories on social struggles is effective. She explains and works to engage," the judges wrote.

General Excellence — Publication: El Mensajero received an honorable mention in this category.

"Excellent, tight editorial focus on child development, education, poverty. Effort is made to write human-interest leads and cover the local area with features. Great photos. The issues lack only a "splash" element. And the feature writing could be deeper. This is a strong, hard-working newspaper," the judges commented.

Best Multiple Picture Package Originating with the Publication — Feature: First place went to former Photo Editor Mike Crupi for his series of photos of "Barakoa: The African Masquerade" that were published in the May 2015 edition.

"Very engaging accompanying photos. Photos depicting motion are particularly good. Excellent use of perspectives and visual representations of color and event participants," the judges wrote.

Best Photograph Originating with the Publication — Feature Photo: Witherow received second place for his photo of a fireman saluting during the National Anthem as it was sung during the opening ceremony of the 46th-annual Puerto Rican Festival in Rochester.

"Classic framing and perspective. Excellent visual appeal and clean demonstration of visual dialogue," the judges remarked.

Crupi won third place in this category for his photo of a young participant in "Barakoa: The African Masquerade."

"Wonderful moment captured. Intriguing story and visual dialogue represented in juxtaposition of subject-matter. Engaging and delightful perspective and use of color," the judges wrote.

Best Newspaper Front Page: El Mensajero received a third-place award in this category.

"Consistent style and brand recognition. Appropriate design choices for brand consistency. Good photo selections and utilization," the judges said.


In-Depth Reporting, 12,001-plus circulation: Jiménez and Kotlarz won third place for a yearlong series of stories on poverty in the Diocese of Rochester.

"Excellent reporting and sourcing," the judges wrote. "The difference in these stories and others in the category was the use of people. Most stories led with a person’s voice, and followed up with a strong nut graph giving context. Only then did the stories go into statistics, trends and other salient details. Great job."

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