Stephen Brown — journalist of the year!

Stephen Brown — journalist of the year!
Community Newspaper Group / Andy Campbell

The Brooklyn Paper has done it again — won the highest honor from a national newspaper association.

Reporter Stephen Brown has been named “Journalist of the Year” by the Suburban Newspapers of America, a trade group whose members have a combined circulation of 22 million.

Brown “proves that news can be informative and entertaining,” according to the judges in the nationwide contest, in which Brown beat out hundreds of seasoned scribes.

His editor, Gersh Kuntzman, was typically effusive (about himself).

“Typically when a young journalist wins an award like this, a good deal of the credit goes to the mentor who shaped him, who informed his reporting, who lavished attention on his raw copy, who set him straight when he made bad choices — and I would be the first person to say that I am that man,” Kuntzman said. “But in this case, the credit belongs entirely to Stephen, who sets a new standard for the modern multi-media journalist.”

Indeed, just before winning the award, Brown took a new job with an upstart web-based news site, Patch.com. But he still looks fondly back on his studies at the Gersh Kuntzman School of Journalism and Grill.

“I think I won the award because I had the freedom to cover all kinds of cool, controversial, and bizarre stuff around the borough,” he said. “On any given day, I could have been writing a review of a Brooklyn Museum show, doing a video about my time in an isolation tank, writing a story about slaughtered geese or mounds of garbage in Prospect Park, preparing an article about an innovative apartment unit made from dried pork, heading to MCU Park to write my Cyclones column, or banging out a hard news story about the redevelopment of Coney Island.

“But I really do owe it all to my former editor,” he added. “How could I not? Just being in the office that fateful day Gersh Kuntzman self-administered a caffeine suppository for a story was a game-changer.”

The praise of Kuntzman was not entirely unwarranted. The Brooklyn Paper editor burnished his credentials with a third-place finish in the “Editor of the Year” category, an award he won outright in 2007. He also collected awards for best editorial writing, best column writing and best entertainment feature story last year.

This time, however, Kuntzman had been nominated in the much-tougher “daily newspaper” category, a tribute to The Brooklyn Paper’s frenetically updated daily website, BrooklynPaper.com.

The judges described Kuntzman as “an editor who knows what his community wants — and provides it.”

Still, the old dog was a bit rankled, even in his moment of mini-triumph.

“Third place is ‘Miss Congeniality,’ ” he grumbled.

The SNA represents more than 2,400 daily and weekly newspapers in both suburban and urban community markets across the country.

The full slate of editorial award winners will be announced next month.

Some of his biggest fans were the abused geese of Prospect Park.
The Brooklyn Paper / Stephen Brown