Ted Hesson did an amazing job at Long Island Wins.
He just did.
When Ted came to Wins we were in the middle of the biggest fight of our lives. Marcelo Lucero had been murdered and his killers were in jail, but Suffolk County government was all-too-willing to claim the ballooning violence against immigrants was the work of “white supremacist” outsiders without admitting the key part played by Steve Levy and his acolytes in promoting hatred. Wins had become an important voice in demanding that attention be paid to the blood on the streets of Suffolk.
Ted came to Wins with a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University and several years of journalistic experience. He used his skills to uncover more of the links between discriminatory policing practices, under-reporting of hate crimes, and political and moral corruption in the Levy administration. In many ways, Ted helped to put us over the top in our often desperate struggle to bring accountability to Suffolk government.
Ted, who could seem mild-mannered to those first meeting him, has always been willing to stand up to those in power no matter how loudly they were screaming at him.
But Ted was not just the immigrant’s Woodward and Bernstein. He integrated Wins coverage into the life of many immigrant communities. Under his editorship, Wins has brought you the culture of the dozens of different ethnic communities that often seem hidden on Long Island. Polish, Italian, Greek, Salvadoran, Korean, and even Danish food, dance, and music have found their way onto the site. Ted always understood that Long Islanders had to move away from the conflict model of immigrant relations and towards a broader cultural appreciation of the riches diversity brings.
He also introduced innovative multimedia features to the web site, supported my own excursions into writing about the history of immigration, and built Wins into a substantial social media presence.
Finally, one of his greatest accomplishments, was his work with our community organizations to let the immigrant voice be heard on Long Island. One of the best examples of this was his work with Noticia and the Long Island Civic Engagement Table last year to organize Suffolk County’s first-ever bilingual County Executive’s Debate. Dozens of community groups got involved in the effort and nearly 450 people participated.
Ted is moving on to Univision. His new job will allow him to bring the skills, ethics, and consciousness that he employed so well here on Long Island to impact on a national audience. I used to call Ted almost every morning. Sometimes to compliment an article he wrote and sometimes to argue that a word I made up in one of my blogs was a perfectly acceptable neologism that he shouldn’t edit out. I’ll miss those calls, but I look forward to reading him well after I hang up my laptop.