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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    A Yankee Quill for Larrañeta and stack of awards for The Day at regional conference

    The Day’s Executive Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, pictured with retired Associate Editorial Page Editor Maura Casey, received the Yankee Quill Award from The Academy of New England Journalists on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at the New England Newspaper Convention in Waltham, Mass.

    Waltham, Mass. ― The Day’s Executive Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, who began her career as a town reporter in 1999 and worked her way up to the newsroom’s top position, received the prestigious Yankee Quill Award on Saturday from The Academy of New England Journalists.

    The recognition came during the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s annual convention, where The Day’s journalists won 23 awards, including eight first-place designations, for news stories, photos, videos and advertising.

    The Yankee Quill recognizes the lifetime achievement of those who have had a broad influence for good, both inside and outside the newsroom.

    Speaking before a gathering of family and friends and the region’s top news professionals, Larrañeta, a Latina who grew up in Bronx, N.Y., said her father, Javier Larrañeta, had imparted his love of newspapers to her.

    “He would tell me, Izaskun – si quires saber lo que esta pasando en el mundo leer un periódico. (Izaskun, if you want to know what’s going on in the world read a newspaper.),” she said. “He would buy me the Sunday Daily News and I would read it from beginning to end.”

    She noticed her community was often portrayed in a negative light.

    “People in my community weren’t all drug addicts, criminals or uneducated. They were in the minority, but you wouldn’t know that if you read or watched the news,” Larrañeta said. “I could just sit and complain or be part of the solution. I wanted to be part of the solution. I decided I wanted to be a journalist.”

    Larrañeta leads The Day’s diversity committee and encourages reporters to seek out voices not normally heard from in their reporting. A passionate advocate of free speech and the role of journalists in preserving democracy, she serves on The New England First Amendment Coalition and on the board of directors of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government.

    Maura Casey, retired associate editorial page editor for The Day, and Carolyn Lumsden, journalism professor and former opinion editor for The Courant, had nominated Larrañeta for the Yankee Quill. In introductory remarks Saturday, Casey said she respected Larrañeta from the day she arrived in the newsroom for her hard work, intelligence and the depth of her reporting, and that Larrañeta’s coworkers speak of her as a “badass” journalist who would go wherever needed to get a story.

    “Excellence in journalism has no gender, and there will NEVER be enough journalists ready to jump in a foxhole,” Casey said. “But you will forgive me for taking special pride that this nominee, whom everyone describes as fearless, will today take her place among the fewer than 40 women to receive the Yankee Quill Award since 1960.”

    Timothy Dwyer, president/publisher of The Day, said Larrañeta is one of the most talented journalists he has ever worked with.

    “Sassy’s career has been dedicated to keeping our communities informed about what is going on in their cities and towns,” Dwyer said. “She has spoken truth to power and taught others to do it as well. She has held people and government bodies accountable. She is a journalist’s journalist.”

    Staff awards

    Staff writer Kimberly Drelich won first place for a Human Interest Feature Story for “Surgery is a lifesaver for Pawcatuck woman,” in which she covered Arianna Howard’s first time standing after Howard, who has cerebral palsy, underwent surgery to straighten her legs.

    Copy Desk Chief John Ruddy won first place in Headline Writing for “Doggie DNA has the scoop on errant pet poop,” a story about an East Lyme apartment complex using DNA to identify those who don’t pick up after their pets. Ruddy won second place in History Reporting for “Case closed: Wreck of sub built by EB is identified after disappearance during WWII.”

    Arts Writer Rick Koster won first and second place in Arts & Entertainment Reporting for stories about Westerly’s iconic Knickerbocker blues club and Iraqi composer Ameen Mokdad’s journey from Mosul, Iraq, where he was captured by ISIS forces, to Connecticut.

    Staff photographer Sarah Gordon won first place in News Feature Photo for a photo of the Westerly Morris Men’s annual spring dance and song ritual at Lantern Hill in North Stonington.

    Editorial Writer Lisa McGinley won first place for Commentary with “Crystal Mall, Crystal Ball,” about the future of the mall in Waterford.

    Multimedia Editor Peter Huoppi took home two first place awards for a time lapse video of environmental artist Rob Wyland painting a mural in New London and a video profile of Ledyard volleyball player Lindsay Davies.

    Advertising staff came in first in the Advertising Sales Media Kit category for its Day Media Group advertising kit and were also recognized for Best Sponsored Content and Best Idea for Generating Revenue with “Local Eats.”

    Winning second or third place awards were:

    Production Manager Scott Ritter received second place awards in the Illustration/Infographics category for “What happened to the Sea Surveyor,” and “Case Closed: Wreck of sub built by EB is identified after disappearance during WWII.”

    Staff Writer Greg Smith, was recognized in the Spot News category for “Off duty New London cop among good Samaritans at scene of I-95 crash; Staff photographer Dana Jensen for General News Photo with ”Welcome Home, San Juan,“ and Gordon for Feature Photo with ”Trotting into the water“ and Sports Action photo for ”Lyman Memorial Girls Clinch ECC Division Title.“

    Arts Editor Kristina Dorsey won for Arts & Entertainment reporting with “If The Garde’s Walls could talk”; The Day’s Housing Solutions Lab for Best Solutions Journalism project as part of a collaboration with the University of Connecticut’s investigative journalism class on a story about evictions; and The Day Magazine for overall design and presentation.

    Graphic Designer Nicole Martini won for a display ad, “Montville Summer Camp.”

    “We are grateful for the recognition of the newsroom’s, advertising's and marketing’s outstanding work in the past year,” Dwyer said. “The Day’s newsroom is full of talented, passionate, hard working journalists who are dedicated to delivering the best coverage of the communities we all call home.”

    k.florin@theday.com

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