The staff of the Jewish Exponent received a record 17 awards as city, state and national press associations handed out honors for the best journalism published in 2006.
"The State of Marriage" -- a four-part series on trends in Jewish dating, living together and matrimony -- earned first place in two citywide competitions. It won the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism Award for Non-Deadline Writing and the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for Newspaper Writing.
The series, published on June 1, June 8, June 15 and June 22, was written by Jewish Exponent staff members Jordana Jacobs, Joshua Runyan, Bryan Schwartzman and Jared Shelly. Runyan's piece "Looking for Mr. (or Mrs.) Right" discussed the difficult in finding a Jewish spouse in today's world. Shelly's "Search for a Mate Gets Complicated" described the world of online dating. Jacobs' "Career First, Courtship Much Later" outlined the trend of acquiring education and professional status before settling down. Schwartzman's "Living Together: Can It Be a Harbinger of Marital Bliss?" delved into the decision whether or not couples should cohabitate before -- or instead of -- walking down the aisle.
Staff writer Jared Shelly earned three awards in his own right.
His March 23 cover news story "School Set for Dismissal," about the closing of the Bucks County Branch of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School, took first place for Spot News Reporting by the Philadelphia Press Association. The same piece also got third place from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the same category.
Shelly captured another state SPJ award for his March 30 cover feature story "Taking Great Care to Really Care" about Jewish hospice patients and services, which received third place in the health and medical category.
The awards were Shelly's first professional journalism honors at the Exponent.
Staff writer Bryan Schwartzman also won a Philadelphia Press Association award for his "End of a Landmark" feature, which appeared on Dec. 28. The story about the closing of the Best Value kosher market in Northeast Philadelphia garnered third place in the category of business coverage.
Managing editor Carin M. Smilk won second-place honors from the state SPJ in the category of feature-story writing for articles on gay life in Israel.
The two-part series, which ran on Sept. 7 and Sept. 14, focused on the first-ever Philly Pride Mission to Israel sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. It was timed for the August World Pride Festival in Jerusalem, which postponed its controversial rally due to Israel's war with Hezbollah. The first story examined how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Jews grapple with Israeli society at large; the second piece talked about the impact of the trip on those who participated in it.
Smilk also gained an individual award in headline writing by the Philadelphia Press Association. She was given an honorable mention for a headline on the April 29 cover -- "That Time of the Month," which ran atop a story on Rosh Chodesh women's groups.
She has earned 10 writing awards in her nine years at the Jewish Exponent.
Graphics editor Julia Elkin captured second place in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Keystone Awards in the category of front-page design, based on a selection of different issues in the year 2006.
Arts & Entertainment editor Michael Elkin was honored by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, winning second place for best criticism in the region. The three articles cited in the award were his April 6 "Must-See Moses" about a TV film about the Exodus; his May 18 "Deciphering 'The Da Vinci Code' Jewishly," about the film adapted from the best-selling book; and his Nov. 2 "Borat: Boo or Praise Him?" on the question of whether Sacha Baron Cohen's blockbuster was anti-Semitic or just plain funny.
Elkin has collected nearly 30 awards over the course of his journalistic career.
Longtime Jewish Exponent cartoonist Stuart Goldman added two awards to his long list of honors as well.
Goldman earned first place for best editorial cartoon from the Greater Philadelphia SPJ. The four cited in the award were his Jan. 12 "Sharon's Shoes" about the plight of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on succeeding Ariel Sharon; his Feb. 9 "Did You See This?" about Islamist attempts to impose censorship on the West; his Dec. 7 "Hello, My Palestinian Brother" about former President Jimmy Carter's attacks on Israel; and his Dec. 21 send-up of the Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran.
The same cartoons also won Goldman an American Jewish Press Association Simon Rockower Award. He took third place in the competition for the Noah Bee Award for cartoons and illustration. It was his seventh Rockower.
Executive editor Jonathan S. Tobin won five different awards for his work in 2006.
He earned first place in the AJPA competition for the Louis Rapoport Award for Excellence in Commentary for his "A Matter of Opinion" column. The three winning columns were his March 23 "If You Build It, Will They Come?" about the problems of both funding and promoting Jewish day schools; his Aug. 17 "Somebody Else's Job" about the death of Bucks County native Michael Levin during Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon last summer; and his Dec. 28 "Protestant, Catholic, Jew and Muslim" about the controversy over a Muslim Congressman choosing to take his oath of office on a Koran.
The award marked the 14th individual AJPA Rockower award won by Tobin in his career, as well as the seventh time he's won the Rapoport award for commentary.
Tobin's columns were also honored by the state SPJ with a second place Spotlight Award for best commentary. The five columns cited in the award included the three mentioned in the AJPA award, in addition to two others: his Feb. 16 "Who Gets Left Behind?" about how church-state scruples are often forgotten by Jewish groups in the scramble for federal dollars; and his Sept. 7 "Is Security Still the Trump Card?" about the efforts of Sen. Rick Santorum to translate support for Israel into votes for re-election.
Tobin also received three awards for editorial writing in 2006.
He won first place in the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's Keystone Award competition for his June 22 "Presbyterian Reversal Doesn't End the Battle" about the divestment effort against the State of Israel; his Oct. 26 "Help to the Hurting," which supported the sending of funds to aid Arab villages that were damaged by Hezbollah attacks during the Lebanon war; and his Nov. 9 "A Frightening Gaffe" about University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutman's Halloween photo-op with a student dressed as a suicide bomber.
The same editorials also garnered Tobin a first place Pennsylvania SPJ Spotlight award and an honorable mention by the Philadelphia Press Association.
The Keystone award was the third Tobin has won in his years at the Exponent. The SPJ Spotlight awards were his 10th and 11th in his career, and the fifth time he's won for editorial writing and the sixth for commentary. The Philadelphia Press Association Media Award was the eighth of his career.
The winners were presented with plaques and certificates during various award ceremonies held within the past month.