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Jesse Coburn

Monday’s Headlines: Thanking the Academy Edition

We would be remiss if we didn't offer some photos and copy about Friday's George Polk Awards ceremony, plus other news.

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman|

Jesse Coburn with his much-deserved award.

We would be remiss if we didn't offer some photos and copy about Friday's George Polk Awards ceremony, where our investigative reporter Jesse Coburn picked up the prize for local reporting for his much-honored "Ghost Tags" series on scofflaw drivers.

At the event at Cipriani on E. 42nd Street, no less a legend as Charlayne Hunter-Gault praised Coburn for revealing a classic "New York City scam — the vast underground market for temporary license plates issued by phony car drivers by the thousands." She fist-bumped Coburn as he took the stage to thank Polk judges.

Coburn explains his series to an impressed Polk Awards attendee.

Coburn graciously (and, from my perspective, excessively) thanked his editor, but the work of exposing the scam by poring through thousands of records from multiple states and crafting tight copy on deadline was entirely Coburn's.

With the Polk Award, the "Ghost Tag" series has now won a Sigma Award for data journalism (the judges said, "'Ghost Tags' has many reasons to be on the list of best journalistic productions of 2023"); an award from the Investigative Reporters and Editors (judges there called said, "The more the story went on, the better it got, and it left no stone unturned"), and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting (where the judges said it was "investigative reporting at its best").

What's next for Coburn? Well, in this business, you're only as good as your next story, so we can't wait to publish it soon.

Until then, there's the weekend roundup:

  • Speaking of ghost tags, apparently, they're a problem upstate, too. (Albany Times-Union)
  • The NYPD, which pretty much never answers our questions about illegal police parking, has apparently ordered cops to stop illegally parking. (We'll call DCPI later today to receive our official "No comment.") (NY Post)
  • Staten Island Rep. Nicole Malliotakis thinks drivers should get free tolls on the Verrazzano Bridge on Wednesday to mark the 500th anniversary of Giovanni da Verrazzano’s arrival in New York Harbor. (NY Post)
  • Upper West Side politicians are definitely split on e-bike safety, with Council Member Shaun Abreu admitting that the registration bill he's signed onto "is not a perfect bill by any means." In fact, it's not even a good one, given that it create an entirely new city permitting system that would lead to a reduction in use of sustainable electric bikes, while not doing anything to rein in illegal moped users or the far greater threat represented by reckless drivers, who have already injured 12,540 people this year (or 78 per day). (West Side Rag)
  • Speaking of real action, the FDNY busted an illegal moped seller with criminal charges, even. (The City)
  • And speaking of car carnage, two were killed in a crash in the Bronx (NY Post), and 15 were injured in a crash in Brooklyn (amNY).
  • Even in a story about car noise, the New York Times Metro Desk still ends up normalizing cars and blaming their victims. In the most recent example, the paper complained about drivers who incessantly honk their horns, yet ended up with a shrug: “If you want peace and quiet," read the kicker, "you’re in the wrong place." (We could say the same thing about competent reporting on the deleterious effect of cars in urban areas.)
  • Nicole Gelinas of the NY Post is no fan of the mayor's package locker initiative.
  • And former federal transit man Larry Penner is no fan of MTA overtime. (Mass Transit)
  • Dreaming of a full Second Avenue Subway? Dream on. (Gothamist)
  • Don't forget that congestion pricing will speed MTA accessibility, argues this Crain's op-ed.
  • From the Assignment Desk: Head to the Brooklyn Public Library central branch tonight at 6 p.m. to hear about yet another round of redesign talk for Grand Army Plaza. (DOT via Facebook)
  • And, finally, people really seem to be responding to Streetsblog's article about the DOT's decision to halve the hours of the Willoughby Avenue open street:

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