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The Leader Awarded NY Press Club's 2023 "Truth to Power" Award

By Rupert Deedes

Grant Lally, Publisher of the North Shore Leader, was the recipient of the New York Press Club’s 2023 Gabe Pressman "Truth to Power" Award. It is the top award given annually by the NYPC, and Lally delivered the keynote remarks at the NYPC's annual dinner.

Lally received the prestigious NYPC award in recognition of The Leader’s coverage of fraudster Congressman George Santos. The Leader was the first media outlet to expose Santos as a pathological liar, and a fraud. In a series of three articles published before the November, 2022 election, the Leader exposed many of Santos' lies and frauds, including his lying on his campaign and personal disclosures, and inventing a fake "great wealth" and "glamorous lifestyle."

The Leader was the first and only newspaper newspaper to identify and publicly call-out Santos - before the 2022 election - as a "fake," a "fraudster, a "fabulist", and both "sketchy" and a "liar."

"We knew he was a lying con-artist, and we didn't hold back," said Lally. "People had to be warned."

Writing about the North Shore Leader’s great investigative journalism, the Washington Post said:

"Months before the New York Times published a December article suggesting Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.) had fabricated much of his résumé and biography, a tiny publication on Long Island was ringing alarm bells about its local candidate...It was the stuff national headlines are supposed to be built on: A hyperlocal outlet like the Leader does the legwork, regional papers verify and amplify the story, and before long an emerging political scandal is being broadcast coast to coast. But that system, which has atrophied for decades amid the destruction of news economies, appears to have failed completely this time..."

Indeed, The Leader’s stories did not receive the attention they deserved until after the election, and Gabe Pressman would have been incredulous – and mighty upset.

Pressman, who was known as “a reporter’s reporter,” died in 2017 at 93. He was a fixture of New York’s journalistic scene for more than six decades, and became a household name for his reporting on NBC 4 New York, which he joined in 1980.

During his time with NBC 4 New York, Pressman compiled an unrivaled record of investigative reporting in politics and social issues. Steve Scott, president of the New York Press Club, described Pressman as "a tenacious seeker of truth."

"I want to thank the Press Club for this great honor - not just for myself," stated Lally. "But also for the thousands of local newspapers and local news reporters all over this country who labor on, week-after week, without fame or public acclaim, covering the news that they see and touch personally. Unless you seek the truth, and look into people's faces, you can miss it. And that is what fraudsters like George Santos count on."

Lally also told the NYPC dinner that reporters need to have courage - to report the truth even if it upsets people or prompts threats.

"Right after the election, Santos was threatening to everyone who would listen to him that he was going to sue us, and use his power to destroy me and the North Shore Leader," added Lally. "He even threatened people to try to ban my 8-year-old son from their kids' parties. It's sick, but it shows you how petty and desperate a sociopath like Santos can get."

Previous recipients of the Gabe Pressman Truth to Power Award include the staff of the Albany Times Union for its series of stories on the Cuomo administration lying to the public about forcing sick COVID-19 patients into nursing homes; the New York Times writers Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor for their reporting on the Harvey Weinstein Case; CNN’s Jim Acosta; and Washington Post’s editor-in-chief Martin Baron.


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