Niagara Gazette — Two prestigious news organizations have recognized the work of a pair of Niagara Gazette newsroom staffers with top awards.
Both reporter Rick Pfeiffer and photographer James Neiss will receive first-place honors on Wednesday from the New York State Associated Press Association.
Pfeiffer was cited for his work in uncovering mismanagement at the SPCA of Niagara while Neiss was recognized for his photo detailing an icy rescue at Hyde Park Lake.
In addition, Neiss’ photo was awarded top honors in the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association’s 2012 photo contest. The Gazette is published by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., based in Montgomery, Ala.
“The awards speak to the quality of our newsroom staff,” said Gazette Publisher Peter Mio. “It's great to see them recognized by their peers.”
Neiss was recognized with first-place honors in the spot news category, as well as the overall grand prize for a photo depicting the efforts of Falls emergency responders who tried to rescue a man who fell through the icy waters and died trying to rescue one of his dogs. Judges commented on the tension shown in the expressions of the rescuers, as well as on the presence of the dead man's dog, which was holding the man's gloves in his mouth.
Judges said of this photo: "The dramatic scene unfolding in its simplicity is poignant and draws the reader's attention to details that make this a great news photograph. The stretched out firefighter, the owner's glove in the mouth of a sad dog, even the body language of the rescue team itself, with water splashing in the foreground and police looking on, make this a very complicated and three-dimensional photo."
Another judge said: "The spot news photo is No. 1. Hands down! The glove in the one dog's mouth — that just broke my heart."