Former Times’ assistant editor again named top reporter

Former Darien Times’ assistant editor David DesRoches was named Reporter of the Year for the second consecutive year, and The Darien Times was honored with six awards, five of them for DesRoches’ reporting, in the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s Better Newspaper Competition.

The Times’ parent company Hersam Acorn won a total of 21 awards. The awards were announced in Boston on Feb. 21.

Times’ cartoonist Doug Smith earned a first place honor for his work depicting the embezzlement of funds from a Darien based veterans’ charity over the summer.

“The awards David garnered this year were hard earned and a true reflection of his talents and his collaboration with his editor Susan Shultz. Winning Reporter of the Year twice, let alone in consecutive years, is absolutely extraordinary and certainly unprecedented within Hersam Acorn,” said Chief Operating Officer Martin V. Hersam.

DesRoches, who left the Times last August and now works as an education reporter for WNPR, Hartford, said he was “certainly humbled and grateful to be honored in this way.”

“It’s a reflection of the tremendous support of my editor, Susan Shultz, and many community members.”

“Most importantly, it’s a reflection of the dedication and perseverance of Darien parents and school staff who would not back down in the face of civil rights violations against our most vulnerable children. I would gladly give any award away if it would guarantee that our public schools had the knowledge and resources to educate all children with excellence,” he said.

He added that he remains “committed to telling true stories that inspire positive change.”

DesRoches received two first place reporting awards in the Right to Know and Investigative Reporting categories. He earned three second place awards in the categories of History, Education and Human Interest Feature categories.

“Awards mean nothing. What matters is that all kids are given the tools they need to succeed. I’m not sure everyone in Darien understands or appreciates the severity of the problems that happened here. Why did they happen at all?” DesRoches said.

“It’s time we wake up, and start doing what’s right. If we can’t even take care of our fellow human beings, how are we supposed to take care of anything at all?” he said.

In commenting on Smith’s cartoon, judges said it “hammered the message home literally and figuratively.”

In the Education category, judges commented that DesRoches “doggedly followed this for a year alerting readers of systemic problems in the towns’ special education program and how the officials attempted to solve this.”

In the comments on the Human Interest Feature Story,  judges said DesRoches “tells a story of an amazing feat while using wonderful examples that allow the reader to get inside the head of the subject.”

In the Investigative Reporting category,  DesRoches used a “dogged pursuit of crucial information”  and his work was an “outstanding example of enterprise reporting,” judges said.

“I’m extremely proud of David and am grateful to the association’s recognition of his hard work and dedication. I have no doubt he will continue to excel and raise the journalism bar in his new endeavor at WNPR,” Shultz said.

To view all judges comments, visit nenpa.com.

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