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TimesLedger honored for explosion coverage, Bell

TimesLedger Newspapers’ coverage of a gas explosion in Flushing and the Sean Bell case landed the company two awards in the 2008 Suburban Newspapers of America Editorial Contest.

Staff reporter Stephen Stirling won first place for best in−depth reporting for his series on the Fairmont Hall gas explosion in Flushing, which killed a Flushing man, severely injured his 2−year−old daughter and displaced several residents of the apartment house on Sanford Avenue in July.

Staff reporter Ivan Pereira took away an honorable mention for best continuing coverage for his work on the case of Rockaway resident Sean Bell, a 23−year−old father of two who was shot 50 times by police at a Jamaica nightclub just hours before he was to be married.

“Both reporters made a commitment to take their stories as far as they could. One explored the lack of accountability in a fatal gas explosion and the other tracked the government’s case against officers who killed an unarmed black man,” said Roz Liston, TimesLedger’s managing editor. “We are pleased that their efforts were recognized.”

The SNA trade association’s editorial contest draws thousands of entries annually from hundreds of weekly and daily newspapers across the United States and Canada. The TimesLedger, a subsidiary of News Corporation, publishes 14 weekly newspapers covering different neighborhoods in Queens.

For Stirling’s series on the Flushing explosion, he tracked the story from the blast itself to the victims of the event, the still disputed cause of the explosion and the unexplained loss of valuables from residents’ damaged apartments.

Pereira reported on a Queens judge’s acquittal of three police officers in the shooting of Bell and the nonviolent protests by disappointed black New Yorkers around the city.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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