Video Excerpts from the 2021 NJ-SPJ Journalism Awards Gala

These are the award winners from the NJ-SPJ Signature Awards for Excellence in Journalism. You can watch short video sequences showing the winners accepting their honors and then discussing their work in backstage interviews with NJ-SPJ Secretary Steve Lubetkin, news director of

2021 NJ-SPJ Journalism Award Winners

Lifetime Achievement Award for Press Freedom and Government Transparency
N.J. State Senator Loretta Weinberg

Lifetime Award for Excellence in Covering New Jersey & Courage Under Fire Award for her COVID coverage (Two Awards)
Brenda Flanagan, NJ Spotlight News

Best NJ Coverage by New York City Media
WNBC-TV, for the reporting of Chris Glorioso

Best NJ Coverage by Philadelphia Media
Philadelphia Inquirer for the reporting of Melanie Burney


Reporter of the Year – The David Carr Award

Julia Martin, Record for her collection of works documenting Montclair’s pandemic year.

Certificates of Excellence in Reporting
Isaac Avilucea, The Trentonian
Lindy Washburn, Record

Educator of the Year – The Ron Miskoff Award

Theta Pavis, New Jersey City University

Certificate of Excellence in Journalism Education
Leo Sacks, Rutgers School of Communication and Information

Rookie of the Year – The Wilson Barto Award

Jon “Ferris” Meredith, TAPinto Wayne

Certificate of Outstanding Rookie Reporter
Daniel Israel, Bayonne Community News /The Hudson Reporter

Best Community Journalism – The Stuart and Beverly Awbrey Award

Simon Galperin, Bloomfield Information Project, for his work titled, “Community listening drives community action on policing equality.”

Certificates of Excellence in Community Journalism
Mark J. Bonamo and Mary Ellen Cagnassola, TAPinto Newark
Caren Lissner, Summit Patch


Best Video News Story- The Gabe Pressman Award

Michael Karas and Danielle Parhizkaran,, for their work titled “Playing for a Way Out” / Record

Certificates of Excellence for Video News:
Givonna Boggans, Montclair News Lab
Mary Chao, Record

Best Use of Public Records – The Tim O’Brien Award

Issac Avilucea and Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, with John Berry and Jeff Edelstein, Trentonian, for their work titled “Law and Disorder”

Certificate of Excellence for Use of Public Records
Terrence T. McDonald with Record

Best Investigative Reporting (Weekly or Hyperlocal)
Jay Rahman, Paterson Times, for his work titled, “Paterson councilman Shahin Khalique’s properties, including his residence, were in foreclosure in 2019, court records show.”

Certificate of Excellence in Investigative Reporting
Gina Rullo, Hammonton Gazette

Best Grassroots Journalism – The Barbara Reed Award

Slice of Culture staff,

Certificates of Excellence for Grassroots Journalism
The Pascack Press Editorial Team: John Snyder, Kristen Beuscher, Michael Olohan, and Matthew Wikfors.

Best Audio News Story- The Herbert Morrison Award

Scott Gurian, Far From Home Podcast

Certificate of Excellence in Audio News

Dino Flammia, NJ 101.5 FM

Best Investigative Journalism (Daily)

Scott Fallon and Lindy Washburn, Record, for their coverage of Covid-19 in veterans’ homes.

Certificates of Excellence for Investigative Journalism:

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman and Isaac Avilucea, The Trentonian.

Courage Under Fire Awards

The Courage Under Fire award is given to those who maintain their journalistic integrity when doing so involves genuine risk to their reputation, their career or even their personal safety or freedom.

Because of the pandemic, the 2020 Courage Under Fire Awards were not presented. The winners were:

  • Mel D. Cole, Independent, photography of the Capitol riot
  • Jeff Rhode, Holy Name Medical Center, photography of COVID19, up-close

  • Julio Cortez, Associated Press, photography of George Floyd protests and the Capitol riot
  • Julian Leshay, WeekenderNJ, photography of mass protests and the Capitol riot

  • Thomas P. Costello, Asbury Park Press, photography of the Capitol riot

  • Gina Rullo and Gabriel Donio, The Hammonton Gazette
NJ-SPJ Secretary Steve Lubetkin, center, presents "Courage Under Fire" awards to Hammonton Gazette Editor-in-Chief Gina Rullo, left, and publisher Gabriel Donio for their coverage of Hammonton municipal government. (Joseph Berenato Photo/Hammonton Gazette)

NJ-SPJ Secretary Steve Lubetkin, center, presents “Courage Under Fire” awards to Hammonton Gazette Editor-in-Chief Gina Rullo, left, and publisher Gabriel Donio for their coverage of Hammonton municipal government. (Joseph Berenato Photo/Hammonton Gazette)