Former 'Sun' editor named Rookie of the Year

James Passeri (photo by Bryan Haeffele)

James Passeri (photo by Bryan Haeffele)

Wilton Bulletin reporter and former Fairfield Sun editor James Passeri recently was named 2012 Rookie of the Year at the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) conference.

The annual NENPA Better Newspaper award ceremony was held Feb. 8 and 9, in Boston, Mass. About 25 staffers from Hersam Acorn braved the Blizzard of 2013 to attend.

Passeri joined The Wilton Bulletin last July, but his award was based on reporting at his previous position at The Fairfield Sun.

In congratulating Passeri on his achievement, Hersam Acorn Publisher Thomas Nash said, “We knew you were good and we’re very proud of you.”

“I really hope the recognition reflects well on Hersam Acorn in general, our parent company, and I owe special thanks to my managing editor at The Fairfield Sun, Nancy Doniger,” Passeri said. “While I worked at The Sun as editor, she was particularly helpful in navigating me through complex subjects by suggesting sources and providing various contact information, particularly on political stories like the state redistricting process.

“In fact, one story I submitted for the award involved a protest along the Fairfield-Bridgeport line during the redistricting process,” Passeri said. “I ran over there to take photos and give some contextual coverage. Ms. Doniger, who was then also editing The Bridgeport News, provided me with invaluable reporting information and contact for a local NAACP chapter, whose voice was crucial for the story.”

Doniger is currently the editor of The Easton Courier.

“James wanted to write hard news right from the start,” Doniger said. “Many beginning journalists prefer features, but he was looking for a challenge. He is a good listener who always seeks feedback and advice on how to improve his work. I’m thrilled he won this coveted award.”

The other stories Passeri submitted for the award were one covering the proposed construction of a new Metro-North station in Fairfield, and the replacement of station employees by ticket-vending machines; the capture of a red-shouldered hawk; and a local feature on an accomplished lifeguard and swim instructor with Down syndrome.

Passeri earned a third-place award at NENPA last year in the transportation reporting category.

A graduate of Fordham University with an economics degree, he is the son of Dr. Daniel Passeri and Marjorie Peterson.

Hersam Acorn took first place in two other categories.

The New Canaan Advertiser was named Best Overall Website in the weekly class. The Advertiser’s site was one of the pilots in the design of all Hersam Acorn sites.

Jeannette Ross, editor of The Wilton Bulletin, took first place, Human Interest Feature Story in the weekly class of newspapers with 6,000 or fewer subscribers.

The staff of Hersam Acorn won a total of 15 awards.

Other Hersam Acorn honorees were:

The Weston Forum, second place, Local Election Coverage;

The Redding Pilot, Kaitlin Bradshaw, second place, Human Interest Feature Story;

The Ridgefield Press, Macklin Reid, second place, Editorial Writing;

The Easton Courier, Liz Skalka, second place, Social Issues Feature;

The Ridgefield Press, second place, Advertising Supplement/Special Section

The Darien Times, David DesRoches, third place, Crime and Courts Reporting;

The Easton Courier, Liz Skalka, third place, Local Election Coverage;

New Canaan Advertiser, Dave Stewart, third place (Weekly Class 2), Sports Page or Section;

Greenwich Post, Paul Silverfarb, third place (Weekly Class 1), Sports Page or Section;

The Ridgefield Press, Tim Murphy, third place, Sports Column;

The Wilton Bulletin, Bryan Haeffele, third place, Spot News Photo;

New Canaan Advertiser, Julie Butler, third place, Special Section.

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