May. 30, 2009  

2009 Sunshine State Award Winners Announced

2009 Sunshine State Awards Logo with Greenberg TraurigThe South Florida Society of Professional Journalists recognized the deserving winners of its 2009 Sunshine State Awards during a ceremony tonight at the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida. The Sunshine State Awards honor excellence in journalism in the state of Florida. This year marked the 15th anniversary of the awards. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, including the winners of the prestigious James Batten Award for Public Service: Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman, and Rob Barry of The Miami Herald. Find out the names of the other winners below.

2009 Sunshine State Awards Winners
Announced May 30, 2009.

Includes judges’ comments and links to winning entries, where available.

(To download a PDF version of the winner’s list, click this link: 2009 Sunshine State Awards Winners List – PDF.)

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1) The Miami Herald; Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman & Rob Barry; Borrowers Betrayed
Comments: The Herald’s series on crooked mortgage traders is good, old-fashioned investigative journalism involving a lot of time and resources—the very thing rapidly disappearing from our profession. The series reflects the big mess afflicting the whole country. It also brought very swift action that one hopes will prevent catastrophe for more Floridians.
2) The News-Press; Amy Bennett Williams; Tomato Pickers and Burger King
Comments: This series was ambitious, original and deeply protective of the public interest. It focused on an issue that had not already made headlines everywhere–the definition of enterprise. The tomato series followed the activism of a workers’ advocacy group, but it didn’t just report on the group’s complain–tit investigated them and, in a sense, verified them, giving voice to folks trying to address injustice.
3) Bradenton Herald; Donna Wright & Staff; Surviving the Squeeze
Comments: The Batten Award is for public service and that’s what the Herald’s series delivered. It demonstrated how the economic meltdown was affecting local citizens and outlined what services and options were available to people in trouble. It also moved readers to help their neighbors and replenish stocks at food banks and the like.


1) The News-Press; Rachel Myers, Denes Husty III, Pat Gillespie & Gabriella Souza; Death of Officer Andrew Widman
Comments: It had been 78 years since a Fort Myers police officer had been killed in the line of duty. The News-Press staff rose to this tragic occasion and responded with a compelling and thorough report for its print and online audiences. Reporters painted a complete picture of the event, adding a level of detail and nuance to the story that would have been impressive even if it hadn’t been done on deadline. Readers came away knowing not just the officer but also his attacker, who was killed by police that same night. Online, the News-Press continued to advance the story with smart multimedia add-ons including an audio account from a witness who tried to revive the fallen officer. In the weeks after the killings, the News-Press stayed with the story as questions arose about the attacker’s previous encounters with the criminal justice system. All in all, this was an impressive piece of work.
2) The Miami Herald; Diana Moskovitz; Holocaust Love Tale a Fabrication
Comments: Herman Rosenblat’s true tale of how he survived imprisonment at a Nazi concentration camp was compelling enough. When he embellished it into a love story — and parlayed it into a book and a movie deal – it seemed too good to be true. And it was. Moskovitz’s account of the “Angel at the Fence” fabrication was powerful and well-reported, giving readers a critical yet sympathetic look into the complicated life of a complicated man.
3) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Colleen Wixon; Autistic Student Voted Out of Kindergarten
Comments: The flabbergasting tale of how an autistic boy was voted out of school by his classmates came fully loaded with built-in drama. Wixon’s reporting captured the outrage while also adding insight to the difficulties teachers and parents face when working with special-needs kids. Wixon presented the facts clearly and fairly, assembling a compelling story that resonated with readers across the country.

1) Naples Daily News; Staff; Death of Police Officer Andrew Widman
Comments: This strong, meaty coverage of the shooting death of a police officer by a career criminal reflects excellent teamwork among reporters. They hit the ground running and at the same time dug deep, going way beyond talking to officials and witnesses in order to provide important context as well as a well-painted picture of what happened.
2) Naples Daily News; Staff; Deputies Shoot Man Nine Times
Comments: The reporting team responded quickly to this story, delivering strong first-day content; they then stayed tenaciously on top of it in the following days. The overall package offers careful, balanced reporting on the often-controversial areas of use of police force and illegal immigrants.
3) Bradenton Herald; Staff; Interstate Meltdown: Inferno Shuts Down I-75
Comments: The staff of the Bradenton Herald were quick and thorough in delivering news of this tragic event to the community; beyond describing what happened they offered a wealth of practical information for motorists and shoppers; their persistence over six consecutive days of reporting brought a record response to get the roads open. With the tanker driver critically injured from burns, reporter Maura Possley found another person who had been similarly injured three years earlier and wrote about him; this provided readers with an important personal dimension. (The tanker driver later died.)

1) Daily Business Review; John Pacenti; Broken Rules, Broken Fortunes
Comments: These are comprehensive, lively stories on cleanup from the fall of financier Bernard Madoff. The “Damage control” article is well written and reads easily; the Jewish angle is handled sensitively. Interestingly, Mr. Pacenti quotes a source who uses a somewhat tortured metaphor: “They may have gotten out of the Titanic alive, but the ship may come back and sink them down the road.” The second article gives an excellent overview of what the lawyers are planning.
2) The News-Press; Mary Wozniak, Dick Hogan & Tim Engstrom; Chinese Drywall
Comments: These are compelling stories about an issue that affected homeowners and construction companies, with good follow-up on readers’ complaints as evidence grew of where the problem was occurring.

1) Florida Times-Union; Matt Galnor; The Baron Who Went Bust
Comments: Big-time real estate developers, especially when they swoop into town in a helicopter, are not just master salesmen, they are dreammakers. Jacksonville believed in Cameron Kuhn’s vision of a transformed downtown, but the reality– as documented by Matt Galnor in the Florida Times-Union — never materialized. Foreclosures did, however. Galnor’s article, without cooperation from Kuhn, tells the story of Kuhn’s failure and its impact on Jacksonville with vigor, perspective and detailed reporting.
2) The Miami Herald; Elaine Walker; Safe to Eat?
Comments: Last year’s salmonella scare frightened the public away from tomatoes, but suspicion eventually turned toward jalapenos, frustrating both consumers and Florida’s tomato growers, who lost millions of dollars. The Herald provided a helpful public service by focusing on the broader debate over the nation’s food safety system as a whole, and the need to improve how items like produce are tracked from the fields to kitchen tables. The technology is there but the political will may not be, the Herald notes in a timely, strongly reported story.
3) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Staff; Beyond the Bailout Series
Comments: For five weeks last fall, the staff of the News-Journal took a story of national significance and localized it, using local interviews and anecdotes to paint a picture of how the financial crisis was hitting home, and looking at whether the government’s first major initiative to stave off a deep recession – the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 — would help. Ambitious in scope, the series of stories took just the right approach for a local audience hungry for explanations at a time of confusion.

1) Bradenton Herald; Brian Neill & Duane Marsteller; Foreclosed Dreams
Comments: Excellent package of six stories that were well-written and well-researched by the writers. Good use of photos and graphics. While there is much focus on losses suffered by financial institutions, these stories explore the toll on families and neighborhoods, as well as aggressive subprime lenders that fueled the mortgage.
2) South Florida Business Journal; Staff; South Florida’s Wake-Up Call
Comments: Thorough review of several aspects of South Florida’s economy and the challenges that the region faces in this recession. Well-written and well-researched. Great use of photographs of people interviewed and graphics to tell the story of the region’s economy.
3) Orlando Business Journal; Bill Orben, Anjali Fluker, Chris Kauffman & Tiffany Beck; Graying Workforce
Comments: Well-written and well-researched package of stories on an important issue to people in Manatee County. Great use of graphics tie the package to together.

1) The Associated Press; Kelli Kennedy; Pen Pal Love
Comments: Kennedy’s piece is a moving and timely tale that exposes the human side of war. It’s a delightful story with a few surprises and a hopeful message: When one reaches out to do good–in this case, becoming a pen pal to a far-away soldier–the benefits go both ways. At the same time, this story reveals the harsh realities and the tough choices facing Americans living in a strained economy at a time of war.
2) The Tampa Tribune; Donna Koehn; Pup’s Devotion is Good Medicine
Comments: Koehn’s piece reveals how a little girl with a genetic disorder—and her entire family—can be healed with the help of a dog. Readers can relate to the challenges this family faces—trying to make ends meet and making every sacrifice for the good of their children.
3) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Jordan Kahn; Surfing’s Lost Chapter
Comments: Kahn’s well-reported story puts surfing in historical perspective through rare interviews with surfing pioneers of the 1930s. The men’s recollection of that time are vivid and compelling. The story traces the genealogy of the sport to reveal that Florida surfing was born in Daytona Beach before World War II, a heritage that’s all but erased.

1) Naples Daily News; Jonathan Foerster; Mark Salem is NOT a Psychic
Comments: Jonathan Foerster turned what could have been a shallow, routine profile of an entertainer coming to town into an engaging, intriguing peek inside the mind of a fascinating character. Gems of quotes like “Once something is in your consciousness, it doesn’t leave. I just know how to find it,” and little details and descriptions of Salem as having “the demeanor of a mad scientist” paint a vivid picture for the reader.
2) Miami New Times; Gus Garcia-Roberts; Faux-Bama!
Comments: Gus Garcia-Roberts’s inside look at the world of Gerardo Puisseaux as “Faux Bama” was funny, illuminating and touching. It gave readers a great sense of a day in the life of Puisseaux as Obama and at the same time introduced readers to the real man behind the impersonator.
3) Charlotte Sun; Pamela Staik; Dear Santa
Comments: Short, simple and sweet, this story touched my heart. Pamela Staik’s writing allowed the story to unfold on its own without added drama – the story itself and quotes were enough.

1) The News-Press; Francesca Donlan; Amazing Grace: A Dream Comes True
Comments: Donlan’s prose breathes life into the incredible wish of a dying youth who wouldn’t take no for an answer when the Make-A-Wish folks told him his dream of an orphanage in Africa was beyond its means. She shows us how the community came together to make John Halgrim’s wish a legacy. Later, she takes us to Africa and we see how Halgrim’s legacy affected the lives of 51 desperate children in a Nairobi slum.
2) The Florida Times-Union; Mark Woods; Football Changed His Life
Comments: It’s all about heart and Mark Woods makes that clear as he takes us on a journey of tears and transformation with Milton Oshay Johnson, a promising high school football player who was paralyzed in a pre-season tackle gone terribly wrong. We want to cry for the young man who is cut down just as his life is blooming. Then Woods makes us want to cheer as Johnson proves there was so much more to him than anyone ever realized.
3) The Florida Times-Union; Bridget Murphy; Swinging for Redemption
Comments: Strong quotes elevate this tale of a onetime baseball great’s reach for redemption above the norm. Murphy shows us how steroids helped hometown hero Rusty Tillman slide from a career in major league baseball to life in a tent in the bug-infested Florida woods. We wait with him anxiously as he visits his child and waits for the call for a job.

1) Naples Daily News; Katy Bishop; Forgotten, Hidden, Neglected
Comments: In a highly competitive category, this gripping story just stood out as the most unforgettable, and the topic is just so unique and fascinating. The writer thoroughly reported and beautifully told the story of these anonymous black ancestors, who sadly have been forgotten by so many as modern society moves on above them in a shopping center. Katy Bishop makes the reader care deeply about these strangers, and she ensures that they won’t be forgotten.
2) The Villages Daily Sun; Katie Tammen; Rapid Response
Comments: The writer did an excellent job narrating the crisis, as if the readers were watching it happen. She also combined the narrative with practical information that is useful to readers.
3) Miami New Times; Francisco Alvarado; Missing Peace
Comments: The writer makes readers feel as if they know this otherwise unknown woman who was so troubled, and apparently forgotten by the law.

1) The Miami Herald; Jack Dolan, Matthew Haggman & Rob Barry; Borrowers Betrayed
Comments: This series builds a devastating indictment of the lax government oversight that allowed criminals to fleece innocent individuals in brazen mortgage frauds. Thoroughly researched and peppered with memorable anecdotes, “Borrowers Betrayed” is a compelling example of investigative journalism that makes a difference.
2) Sun Sentinel; Andy Reid & Megan O’Matz; Officials’ Air Time Costs Taxpayers
Comments: This one-two punch effectively demonstrated how public officials were getting personal benefit from their jobs in the form of free travel and luxury accommodations, shining a light on practices that should be changed.
3) The Palm Beach Post; Michael LaForgia; Fatal Crashes, Close Calls
Comments: Delving into an unexplored world, these reporters revealed the dangers lurking at a troubled flight school. Their in-depth reporting sounded a warning and put pressure on public officials.

1) Bradenton Herald; Robert Napper, Natalie Alund & Duane Marsteller; Loophole Exposed in Predator Law
Comments: These clearly written, solidly investigated reports revealed a hidden risk and put pressure on legislators to tighten rules on sexual predators. This is a compelling example of taking a local story and finding its larger meaning.
2) The Villages Daily Sun; Matt Dixon, Meta Minton & David R. Corder; Pruitt Investigation
Comments: Dogged reporting and daily enterprise exposed the improper activities by a well-known candidate.
3) Miami New Times; Amy Guthrie; Drink Up
Comments: This in depth exploration of contaminated water at a trailer park deconstructed a health risk through the eyes of the people most affected.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Jim Stratton; Letters from Florida
Comments: Stories exploring the moods of voters are often predictable and dull. Not Stratton’s work. His well-written “Letters from Florida” were innovative, insightful and fun to read. He presented the voters in their own voices, where they offered complex and nuanced views of what they were looking for in a presidential candidate. What I liked best: None of the characters in his stories felt like stereotypes or fit into neat political categories.
2) The Associated Press; Brendan Farrington & Laura Wides-Munoz; Minority Voters
Comments: With strong use of demographic material, the reporters offered readers a clear picture of the challenges facing Obama and McCain as they sought to capture slices of Florida’s diverse electorate. The stories contained lots of telling detail and useful analysis.

1) The Ledger; Bill Rufty, Cary McMullen & Gary White; The Homestretch: Polk’s Mood
Comments: This is election coverage to admire. In the runup to the presidential election, The Ledger truly listened to voters, tracking the views of young voters, veterans and others. The community comes to life in this series, and the reporting seamlessly integrates national polling and other information with portraits of local people and emerging local trends. Together with the photographers and graphics staff, these reporters gave the kind of intelligent, thorough look at election-year politics that makes you glad and grateful for a newspaper.
2) Miami New Times; Gus Garcia-Roberts; Redemption Run
Comments: To be sure, many Floridians had probably heard a lot about Elton Gissendanne–but likely years ago. Gus Garcia-Roberts takes this old pol hoping for a comeback, and gives readers a fresh, page-turning tale. The writing is top-notch, the pacing terrific. This is a smart story.
3) Naples Daily News; Ryan Mills; Collier Sheriff’s Race
Comments: These stories, on a curious collection of sheriff’s candidates, provided readers a true service. The reporter, Ryan Mills, showed initiative and persistence in trying to get to the bottom of these candidates’ backgrounds and their qualifications for office. Mills also let the readers really hear from the candidates–for better and worse. Plain and simple: These stories helped voters learn.

1) Miami New Times; Tim Elfrink; Black October
Comments: Elfrink takes us on a gripping journey from a tiny village in the highlands of Bolivia to a federal courtroom in Miami where a trio of Aymara Indians have come seeking justice for family members they say were slain by the Bolivian military five years earlier in an uprising known as Bolivia’s “Black October.” His story provides an incisive and compelling look at how far the American courts can go to meet the demands of this lawsuit against a former Bolivian president and defense minister who fled to Miami after the uprising that claimed 67 lives.
2) National Law Journal; Julie Kay; Vetting Jurors Via MySpace
Comments: Kay shows us how technology is changing the rules in jury selection. Her thoroughly researched work looks at the impact online sites such as MySpace and Facebook have had on jury selection and trial tactics. She shows us how anything, ranging from lottery prizes to Internet rants can become a crucial consideration for attorneys and jury consultants selecting juries in high stakes trials.
3) Daily Business Review; Billy Shields; Taken for a Ride?
Comments: Shields takes us inside a little-known corner of the courts–the world of litigation advance companies. Citing the tale of an injured cruise ship worker, Shields shows us how these companies operate in a virtually unregulated wild west. We see how they can pay desperate, unsophisticated plaintiffs cash advances against potential lawsuit settlements and then charge huge fees when settlements are awarded.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Henry Pierson Curtis; Gun Law Firing Blanks
Comments: This story tore through the hype of tough gun laws to show that few people who wield weapons in crimes in Florida get mandatory sentences. The analysis used thousands of arrest cases to make its overwhelming argument that the laws are falling short. In a companion piece, Curtis documented the widespread use of weapons across the state.
2) Sun Sentinel; Staff; Danger at the Mall
Comments: The Sun Sentinel scoured thousands of crimes over five years to give readers a portrait of the dangers lurking in local shopping malls. The work is impressive for its breadth and its practical uses, arming shoppers with information they can use to stay safe.
3) Orlando Sentinel; Amy Edwards; Did Hospital Nurse Prey on Patients?
Comments: This story documented how a nurse accused of sexually abusing patients was able to slip through the cracks and get rehired, where he allegedly abused again. Through stories of victims, the reporting showed the heartbreaking damage done when the system failed.

1) The Miami Herald; Jay Weaver; South Florida’s Medicare Racket
Comments: This thoroughly researched series of stories was the judges’ definite favorite for its clear writing, attention to detail and findings. This was a very informative project, and Medicare officials should take notice.
2) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Anne Geggis; Baby Justine
Comments: This touching, heartfelt story exposes a societal problem that is too often overlooked.
3) Sun Sentinel; Bob LaMendola; How Competent is Your Doctor?
Comments: This story not only highlighted a serious incident but gave readers the tools to evaluate their own physician. The judges were particularly impressed with the newspaper’s commitment to creating an interactive database.

1) New Times Broward Palm Beach; Amy Guthrie; Drink Up
Comments: This article was clearly the best of the bunch. It was informative, compelling and written exceptionally well. I was actually sad to get to the end!
2) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Adam L. Neal; Fraudulent Charity
Comments: This expose on a Port St. Lucie-based charity was the epitome of top-flight journalism with its thorough reporting and good writing. Kudos on a job well done!
3) Orlando Sentinel; Richard Burnett; Collection
Comments: What struck me about this collection of stories is how reader-friendly they are. Burnett has the ability to take what would be a complicated subject for someone and boil it down to something that would be easily understood. His advice is sound and informative.

1) The Miami Herald; Jacqueline Charles; Haiti Battered
Comments: Comment: This series of stories from Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike provide an amazingly vivid and compelling look into the devastation that slammed that impoverished country. The writer brings the reader right into the mud, death and grief, and the human stories of desperation and loss are unforgettable.
2) Sun Sentinel; Mike Clary; Out of Cuba
Comments: A fascinating look at the tough realities awaiting those who escape to Florida from Cuba. Well-written and accessible, this story puts a human face on the reported explosion in Cuban immigration, a topic that is highly relevant to the residents of South Florida.
3) The Associated Press; Jennifer Kay & Jonathan Katz; Rotting Cargo
Comments: The lead of this story grabs the reader by the eyeballs, and the outrage just grows from there. Any reader who has donated to an anti-hunger cause would be interested in seeing this report on how bureaucracy leaves food to rot while Haitians starve.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Robert Block & Mark K. Matthews; America’s Troubled Space Program
Comments: Block and Matthews penetrated the insular world of NASA engineers, tight-lipped aerospace companies and Washington bureaucrats to paint an alarming portrait of America’s space program. While mindful of their series’ national and even international importance, they never lost sight of the fact that NASA’s woes threatened to leave 4,000 Floridians without jobs. Mixing dogged reporting and FOIA power, they outsmarted NASA spies and told an important story unmatched by other media outlets.
2) Daily Business Review; Jordana Mishory; Selection Shuffle
Comments: Mishory skillfully exposes a politically steeped selection process that threatened the integrity of Florida’s judicial system. The Daily Business Review forced discussions on the selection process to be open to the public, a move which ultimately forced the governor to back down from his plans and appoint the commission’s preferred candidate. An example of watchdog journalism at its finest.
3) The Ledger; Dave Schultz; CSX Mystery Train
Comments: Compelling account of how a massive commuter rail project won state funding without any public hearings or open discussion by the state legislature. The Ledger spent two months examining public documents, memos and letters, an arduous task that ultimately showed readers how more than $1.5 billion was being spent without their knowledge and against their wishes.

1) The Miami Herald; Larry Lebowitz; Taken For a Ride: How the Transit Tax Went Off Track
Comments: This collection of stories is a powerful piece of watchdog reporting that showed taxpayers in Miami-Dade how and why their tax dollars were wasted in what was billed as a major expansion of public transit in the region. Lebowitz demonstrated how politics and mismanagement thwarted the effort.
2) The Florida Times-Union; Mary Kelli Palka & Timothy J. Gibbons; Jacksonville Port Authority Vice Chair
Comments: These reporters were relentless in their pursuit of documents and interviews about the questions raised by Tony Nelson’s business and government ties. They did a thorough and fair job with a complex subject.
3) Orlando Sentinel; Mark Schlueb; Booting Cars in Downtown Orlando
Comments: These articles are a classic example of public service reporting that has a big impact. Schlueb showed the problems caused by what many downtown residents and businesspeople viewed as the overly aggressive actions of a towing company. He also was fair to the company’s controversial owner.

1) South Florida Business Journal; Brian Bandell & Oscar Pedro Musibay; North Miami CRA
Comments: This series untangles the colossal mess that is the North Miami CRA. It’s watchdog reporting like this that readers truly count on from journalists–and that should be rewarded. Congratulations.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Erika Hobbs; Can Evans High Be Saved?
Comments: Hobbs’ work on this series was compelling and moving. Not often in our business will you read a series about something as day-to-day as a school that will give you chills–but this series did. Hobbs coverage of this issue allowed her to illustrate larger themes in education, and brought to light the struggles of those children who are being left behind.
2) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Colleen Wixon; Teacher Lets Students Vote Out Classmate
Comments: This entry really dug into what started out as a shocking story to uncover a bigger issue. The writing was straight-forward, and the attention brought to the issue because of these stories will impact children for many years.
3) New Times Broward Palm Beach; Deirdra Funcheon; Simmer Down, Kids!
Comments: The story really captured some vignettes of what’s going on in sex ed, a topic often shyed away from in mainstream media. The facts are presented in an interesting manner, and the interweaving of student reaction and thoughts made this piece stand out.

1) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Deborah Circelli; Dignity Lost?
Comments: Gutsy reporting with an edge and results. Circelli passionately advocates for the mentally imprisoned, a group all too often neglected by news outlets.
2) The News-Press; Janine Zeitlin; Group Homes Are Often No Haven
Comments: Excellent use of open records to tackle social issues often left undocumented.
3) The News-Press; Melanie Payne; Black Burial Sites Trashed, Untended
Comments: Outstanding investigation of a topic that’s rarely explored, with results.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Iliana Limon, Kyle Hightower & Lynn Hoppes; UCF Football Player’s Death
Comments: Solid reporting and storytelling.
2) Naples Daily News; Liam Dillon; Ave Maria U. Men’s Basketball Coach
Comments: The reporter did a good job of reporting and continually digging to find the real story.
3) The Palm Beach Post; Charles Elmore; Marathoner Finishes on Bare Rims
Comments: Good description of a athlete’s refusal to quit.

1) The Miami Herald; Linda Robertson; A Racing Legend Relives Glory and Sorrow
Comments: Linda Roberton’s profile of Bobby Allison takes us on an exhihilarating, gritty ride through the life of one of NASCAR’s legends. The subject life is sometimes heroic and sometimes tragic, but the writing is always sharp and the reporting and research impeccable.
2) Orlando Sentinel; David Whitley; Reggie Williams
Comments: An agonizing, unflinching look at the damage the brutal game of pro football inflicted on one of its own, and the courage it takes to keep going after the money and cheering end.
3) The Florida Times-Union; Bridget Murphy; Swinging for Redemption
Comments: This painstakingly documented profile of former baseball star Rusty Tillman shows how quickly and quietly an athlete can fall. His fight to overcome homelessness is inspiring without being maudlin.

1) The Villages Daily Sun; Gary Corsair; Florida Baseball Beginnings
Comments: I found it very interesting and enlightening about the early orgins of baseball in your area. It was obviously well researched and written.
2) Miami New Times; Francisco Alvarado; No Fear
Comments: This was a subject I knew nothing about and was really pulled in by all the details and insight. I liked how the story completed itself at the end when it answered the beginning question.
3) New Times Broward Palm Beach; Amy Guthrie; Switch Hitter
Comments: I liked how the story developed from “I played on a lesbian softball team” to a history of how the sport and lesbians have affected each other over the years. I also liked that it was written first person with the writer’s history adding nice touches.

1) El Nuevo Herald; Staff
Comments: El Nuevo Herald is an engaging publication that well combines local and international coverage with an attractive presentation. Its dramatic use of color, photos and graphics engages the reader from the cover. The cover fronts guide the reader through a complete publication that manages to effectively cover South Florida as well as the nation and the world with emphasis in Latin America.
2) El Sentinel – Broward; Staff
Comments: El Sentinel is a strong runner-up. It uses a modern format to cover local news as well as stories from a variety of Latin American countries. It design is appealing effectively using photos and graphics. El Sentinel provides an all-around good reading experience.
3) La Palma; Staff
Comments: La Palma’s coverage leading up to the 2008 election was compelling. Focusing on the Hispanic vote, La Palma brought to light the complex issues that concern a diverse community. La Palma’s presentation is attractive with good use of color.

1) Welding Journal; Staff
Comments: We can’t judge the technical and research aspects but this monthly magazine has a good mix of stories that seem well-targeted to its audience, and a reader-friendly design.
2) Florida Catholic of Miami; Ana Rodriguez-Soto, Ann Borowski Slade, Denise O’Toole Kelly & Christopher Gunty
Comments: A good packaging of local, national and international news and features of interest to this weekly’s readers.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Sports Staff; Football 2008
Comments: Clever theme. Creative, fun and interesting in its writing and design.
2) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Staff; Football Annual
Comments: Crisp, clean and easy to follow in both writing and presentation. Packed a lot in a small amount of space without overwhelming the reader.
3) The Palm Beach Post; Bruce Moore, Eliot Kleinberg & Staff; Storm 2008
Comments: Comprehensive and commendably uber-reader-friendly in writing and presentation. Good use of graphics (judicious and not overwhelming). Making this a booklet, versus broadsheet or tabloid, was smart.

1) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; David Wiggins
Comments: These editorials offer strong, informed arguments with a sense of place. Wiggins writes in clear prose that allows outsiders to grasp local issues such as the tensions between rural private property owners and stricter subdivision regulation. Light and clarity are shed on an impressive range of topics from water management to undeveloped waterfront property. A foundation of strong reporting lends depth to the editorials.
2) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Ken Ward
3) The Florida Times-Union; Joe Adams

1) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Bruce Beattie
Comments: Beattie’s cartoons have a strong news value, especially to local readers. He takes his viewpoint beyond the obvious–and gives it a sharp spin. For instance, his panel on Amendment 2 was particularly biting, and literally hit home for readers.
2) Orlando Sentinel; Dana Summers
Comments: Sharp political commentary, with a strong point of view. The panel with the bowling ball drop was especially witty.
3) Sun Sentinel; Chan Lowe
Comments: Lowe tackles some complicated political issues with a sharply focused viewpoint. His images are simple, his commentary sophisticated.

1) Naples Daily News; Liam Dillon; Ave Maria Church Dedication Coverage
Comments: With determined and balanced reporting, Dillon pulls back the curtain on the business and bureaucracy of organized religion with his tale of how the Ave Maria “oratory” finally earned recognition from the official church. Dillon takes a clear-eyed approach to the story, gradually peeling away the layers and laying out the facts as he finds them. Readers get a rare insight into what makes a church a Church with a capital “C,” and they learn how that distinction affects a community’s experience with its chosen faith.
2) The Ledger; Cary McMullen; Finding Christmas
Comments: Through the stories of three separate people who found Christianity, McMullen deftly defines the role of faith in modern society. What need does religion fill in our lives? For Annie Nilsson, the church provides a sense of belonging and direction. For Gary Weiss, it’s comfort after a deeply personal loss. For Luthricia Henderson, it’s hope in hard times. McMullen stands aside and lets these subjects tell their stories – each of them small in scale, but large in scope – and the result is a total greater than the sum of its parts.
3) The Associated Press; Travis Reed; Lakeland Revival
Comments: Red hot faith and cold hard facts collide wonderfully in this story of Pentecostal preacher Todd Bentley, whose claims of healing the sick don’t stand up to Reed’s reportorial scrutiny. Reed methodically tries to substantiate Bentley’s “miracles,” but finds no tangible evidence. Are the miracles and healings evidence in themselves? That’s what Bentley would want you and his followers to believe, but Reed unblinkingly presents the facts and does so without cynicism or malice.

1) Daily Business Review; Polyana Da Costa; Condo Meltdown
Comments: There’s no denying the news value to readers whose condos may have become victims of banks blacklisting their buildings, sticking it to desperate homeowners who want to renovate or simply want to get out. They’re stuck in the very realest sense of the term. This story broke that news and explained in fine detail how and why these kinds of events occurred.
2) Orlando Sentinel; Mary Shanklin & Vicki McClure; Series
Comments: This exhaustive series of stories gave readers real the stories of their neighbors, breaking the myth of all of those “other” high-risk folks, and shed unflinching light on unscrupulous appraisers who couldn’t even be bothered to measure a few rooms, costing homeowners thousands in overpriced homes. The online component complements the print package well.
3) The Tampa Tribune; Shannon Behnken; Foreclosure Crisis
Comments: This reporter does an exquisite job putting real human faces on the real estate bubble’s burst. Readers can feel the outrage and sympathy for the homeowner working through her options with a lender–only to find out the note on the house was sold. Clearly, it strikes at the heart of what so many are facing. And the writing looks clear-eyed at its subjects, with just the right amount of sensitivity to their situation without becoming maudlin.

1) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Dinah Pulver; Got Water?
Comments: If you took water for granted, you won’t after reading this exhaustive, refreshing report. Stories are well-crafted, thoroughly reported and nicely organized. Series not only digs deep into this fascinating topic, but graphics and sidebars provide useful, practical information and advice. This hits you where you live.
2) Orlando Sentinel; Dan Tracy & Mary Shanklin
Comments: Well-executed, watchdog reporting of a clever and simple idea. Reporting is solid, writing is clear and provocative. A good read.
3) New Times Broward Palm Beach; Deirdra Funcheon; Mud in Your Eye
Comments: In-depth look from the front-lines of the environmental wars. Hard-nosed, thorough reporting told in textured feature writing style.

1) The News-Press; Mary Wozniak; Trash or Treasure: the Debate Rages
Comments: Part crime reporting, part visual-art criticism, this comprehensive piece has something for a variety of readers, which justifies its page-one play. Very well written, researched and documented.
2) Naples Daily News; Katy Bishop; Adrift No More
Comments: Reading the feature, one quickly realizes that the eventual merit of the subject’s work is much less important than his emerging story of triumph. Excellent example of the writer making back story important for the reader.
3) Miami New Times; Carlos Suarez de Jesus; Basel Invasion!
Comments: An instance of an advance of an event being almost as interesting as the event itself. The work is pertinently grounded in the reality of a bad economy, with an acknowledgment that art may be even more important during lean times.

1) Creative Loafing; Brian Ries; Anywhere But Here
Comments: Addresses what may be the most critical socio-economic and health-care issue of our time. The piece leaves open the promise of further reporting — and editorializing– about the need for better nutrition among all Americans, mainly the poor.
2) The Miami Herald; Evan S. Benn; Putting It On the Line
Comments: Not quite as exciting as George Plimpton’s stint with the Detroit Lions, this instance of a non-professional trying the chef’s life nonetheless is a terrific read, especially for home cooks who labor in anonymity.
3) MIAMI Modern Luxury; Jen Karetnick; The New Sushi?
Comments: Very informative, especially for readers who may not have a regional appreciation for the cuisine. Very well-sourced.

1) Naples Daily News; Harriet Howard Heithaus; Musical Ride Exhausting, Invigorating
Comments: The critic’s lead: “Howard Shelley is an active verb.” So is seemingly every other word of her writing, which is every bit as kinetic as the music and histrionics she describes and explicates.
2) Creative Loafing; Mark E. Leib; Speed Demons
Comments: The critic has what all should: a high tolerance for ambiguity. He also shows an appreciation for the original source material and finds fitting reasons to pan an ambitious dramatic departure.
3) Creative Loafing; Brian Ries; Small Plates, Big Tastes
Comments: A timely idea when many are finding reason to turn away from large portions. The writer also clearly has an excellent sense of his subject matter.

1) Miami New Times; Elyse Wanshel; A Pregnant Pause
Comments: Edgy comedy that has the reader laughing at both the premise and at his/her inability to stop reading. Like being willfully ambushed by an anarchic comic mind.
2) Naples Daily News; Brent Batten; Don’t Let the Joke Be On You
Comments: Readers probably never get tired of practical-joke material, not with this column, in any case. The reader gets a good sense of nature of the jokester here.

1) The Miami Herald; Fred Grimm
Comments: Grimm obviously is not a columnist comfortable with pontificating from his desk. He weaves thorough street reporting into nuanced columns that never overlook the human element at the center of the complex and divisive issues he tackles.
2) The Florida Times-Union; Mark Woods
Comments: Woods’ richly detailed piece on a group affluent teenagers savagely attacking a trio of homeless men for kicks was as compelling as it was disturbing. The minute particulars in his work provide clear evidence of how deeply Woods mines his territory to craft a riveting column.
3) Charlotte Sun; John Hackworth
Comments: Hackworth chronicles the struggles of ordinary people in trying circumstances with dignity and sensitivity. Unlike many other columnists, he is particularly adept at staying out of the way and letting the subject of his columns tell their absorbing tales.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Mike Bianchi
Comments: Good writing on tough subjects.
2) The Florida Times-Union; Gene Frenette
3) The Gainesville Sun; Pat Dooley


1) The Miami Herald; Patrick Farrell; A People in Despair: Haiti’s Hurricane Season
Comments: Comments: Patrick’s picture is beautiful and compelling. He captured a tragic moment during a horrific time that truly spoke to the struggle of the Haitian people. This man, embracing his lifeless daughter, is an emotionally engaging picture that was sure to stop readers’ in their tracks.
2) The Florida Times-Union; Bob Self; Woman Shot
Comments: Bob’s photo captures a moment of sheer anguish for Tishawn Jones. Bob did what great photographers can do, unintrusively being in the moment and capturing the unfortunate pain of the situation with a single frame.

1) The Ledger; Rick Runion; I-4 Crash
Comments: A good detail frame from a horrific accident on I-4. It fit in well with the other photos from the scene.

1) Sun Sentinel; Robert Duyos; Up, Up and A Wade
Comments: We’ve seen this shot a thousand times, but it’s not easy to do it well, and that’s what Robert did in this frame. The composition is excellent and the timing is impeccable. It’s a beautiful sports photo.
2) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Peter Bauer; Chills, Spills at Daytona 200
Comments: Peter took a great action shot at the Daytona 200 race. It is a fascinating sports moment that draws the reader in. It’s not a typical motorcycle crash and the juxtaposition of rider and bike adds energy and excitement.

1) Sun Sentinel; Carey Wagner; When this First Happened…
Comments: Very compelling images with strong emotion and moments. The photographer became a fly on the wall without intruding on the subjects in order to share these personal up close images with the readers.
2) Sun Sentinel; Carline Jean; Tender Moment
3) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Alex Boerner; Community Wishbook

1) Sun Sentinel; Carey Wagner; She Made a Promise
Comments: The judges were touched by the subject matter and the elegance of the photos. While it is a sad situation the photographer was able to show the joy the couple shares through their love for each other.
2) The Miami Herald; Carl Juste, Charles Trainor, Jr. & John Van Beekum; Illegal Immigration: Changing Course
Comments: A sweeping and powerful story on illegal immigration. The entry shows a consistently high level of photography throughout the entire story.
3) Sun Sentinel; Andrew Innerarity; Haiti Prison
Comments: A view into the world of forgotten and forsaken men. Powerful photography that covers all the bases in telling this story.

1) Tampa Bay Business Journal; Abe Rios
Comments: We found Abe’s work strong and varied. In dealing with business concepts that are often difficult to illustrate, he managed to create interesting visuals and pair them with solid headlines.
2) Orlando Sentinel; Rich Pope
Comments: Rich’s attention to detail is remarkable, and he has a great eye for color. His style and talent varies greatly in these three submitted pages, something we didn’t expect from a single artist.
3) The News-Press; Stephen Hayford
Comments: Stephen’s entry was a striking “photograph” that we assume was digitally manipulated. Great lighting and color. We would have liked to see a page number for the article, but otherwise great effort.

1) South Florida Business Journal; Jason D’Auria
Comments: Design catches the reader’s eye and clearly conveys the idea behind the spread. Headlines also effectively convey this theme well and go well with the design. Overall, covers are fun, creative, and have spunk to them. They maintain a “business” feel without being bland or boring.
2) The Villages Daily Sun; Marianne Lobaugh & Rob Wilkerson
Comments: Images match the idea of “Florida’s friendliest hometown.” Designs are warm and welcoming, thus effectively embodying the magazine’s mission statement.
3) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Octavio Diaz
Comments: Clever headline and nice wordplay. Design is interesting in that it takes an overused image and tweaks it in a unique way.

1) The Villages Daily Sun; Marianne Lobaugh & Rob Wilkerson
Comments: All three spreads have an unfussy, bright quality which is quite inviting. The designs both draw the reader in and enhance the story content, helping to move the narrative forward. The layout featuring a juxtaposition of close-up and overhead shots of a dragon boat was particularly arresting visually. The designer showed creative use of limited art in the hot-air balloon spread, repeating the image multiple times buy varying the intensity of color to create the illusion of depth.
2) South Florida Business Journal; Stacey Shervan
Comments: Creative layout gives the reader the sense of having a street-level view of the skyscrapers, which hugely complements the story content. The accompanying graphs are clear and easy to read. The overall effect is clean and inviting.
3) The News-Press; Lindi Daywalt-Feazel
Comments: In the Christmas toy story, a variety of cut-out images creates colorful, inviting pages that illustrate the products. The spread in the baby story employs talk bubbles as an effective solution for laying out a page of quotes in a fun way. In the thrift store spread, we are taken inside the world of serious thrift shoppers through a well-curated selection of photos.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Staff
Comments: Three strong and uniquely different covers. Loved the double-truck impact of the election cover and the 20 pages of expanded coverage ref box. And you made it work with the front-page ad. Also loved the look of the 50 years of NASA cover and the memorable quotes. The Patriotic IQ test was fun, energetic. Nice work.
2) The Miami Herald; Paul Cheung, Ed McDonald & Zach Folzenlogen
Comments: Pretty straightforward approach to the election, but it was clean. Loved the “Borrowers Betrayed centerpiece,” and the Wall Street cover let graphics do the work. Overall, nice work.
3) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Scott Turick
Comments: While I didn’t see any particularly unqiue design approaches here, what I appreciated was the energy. Lots of reader-entry points. Loved the “Moonlight Murders” layout.

1) The Ledger; Laurie Lawrence, John Pitts & Steve Antley
Comments: The Ledger is creative in its front-page presentation. The use of photos and illustrations is dramatic and the design backs-up the content. Good layering of the A1 skybox treatment, and the use of color and graphics is visually stunning.
2) Bradenton Herald; Brent Conklin
Comments: Great use of graphics on the Bradenton Herald front pages. Integrated use of photos, charts and maps as visual storytelling breaks from traditional front-page design. A simple color palette keeps the pages clean and crisp.
3) La Palma; Emily Mendez
Comments: The La Palma front page design is simple and playful. Good use of illustration and graphics as storytelling devices, and judicious use of whitespace around the quote at the bottom of each front page.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Staff
Comments: Engaging local fronts that present quick nuggets of information in a sophisticated format. Whether designing a cover about the wardrobe of astronauts, endangered species or a quiz about Labor Day, the staff made smart choices to create stunning pages.
2) The Miami Herald; Presentation Department
Comments: Clean and newsy visual presentation. The “Thanksgiving Dinner Emergency-Repair Kit” centerpiece is a favorite. It’s useful and fun for readers.
3) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Ruth Oneufer
Comments: Utilizing typography and photos to create straight-forward local fronts.

1) The Miami Herald; Paul Cheung, Zach Folzenlogen, Michael Babin & Chris Melchiondo
Comments: The cream of the crop. Beautifully executed themed Money covers. The design was spectacular; the content perfect for these trying economic times. The Illustrations were sophisticated and complemented the subject content. Very well done.
2) The Ledger; Laurie Lawrence
Comments: Very sophisticated design for small newspaper. Rivaled many of the larger newspapers. Clean and restrained use of typography. Great use of photography.
3) The Florida Times-Union; Staff
Comments: The creative use of illustrations on their covers propelled them above all others.

1) Orlando Sentinel; Sports Staff
Comments: Great planning and execution while literally juggling a political football for the Football 2008 covers. The visuals were effective, and the please-turn-this-section-over art element at the top was a nice — and given the political balance issue — a needed touch. The Southwestern style illustration for the NCAA Tourney cover was different and well-executed. The middle of the Florida-Alabama cover provided a nice change-of-pace: A game story front. While it had impact, it was busy at the top (flag, but that’s probably your newspaper style) and bottom (the college icons looked like an extension of the ad). But overall, very nice work.
2) The Miami Herald; Zach Folzenlogen, Ana Larrauri, Chris Melchiondo & Robert Cohn
Comments: The red-and-gold Beijing cover was a grabber, especially considering you didn’t have great visuals to work with. Liked the way red light in the stadium related to the red background lower on the page. Although the all-Dade winter sports cover had an eye-catching poster page feel, the winter sports theme didn’t translate easily. The Super Bowl illustration was nicely done. It was ironic, however, that the Giants player was the small person in the illustration. But overall, nice work.
3) The News-Press; Robyn George
Comments: It was the Belmont Stakes cover that earned you the bronze. It had impact. But more significantly, it carried useful information. While the other two covers weren’t anything dynamic, they were clean and organized.

1) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Laurie Sterbens
Comments: Wonderful, clean design. We love the styling on the “Healthy for Less” page. Visual concepts pair perfectly with the copy. We also like Laurie’s type styling and use of color where it matters.
2) The News-Press; Lindi Daywalt-Feazel
Comments: Lyndi’s entries show stunning use of type as visuals. Her pages are so visually interesting, and she uses color very effectively. It was tough to choose a first-place winner in this category.
3) The Palm Beach Post; Jessica Jordan, Rebecca Vaughan & Jenna Lehtola
Comments: The entrants chose great art to illustrate the content, and what a lot of content! It’s a lot of copy to digest, and they made it easy to follow without any distractions or too much decoration.

1) The Villages Daily Sun; Anthony Casto
Comments: Anthony’s entries demonstrated a broad range of talent. The bold designs made good use of color. Definitely the stand-out entry in this category.
2) The Ledger; John Pitts
Comments: John’s Hulk page was a favorite, especially with the character ripping up the page. His pages are very bold and use color and type effectively.
3) The Gainesville Sun; Jean Fleetwood
Comments: Jean’s pages seem to have a lot of visual content, and she manages to balance all the competing components. Nice concepts and easy-to-read centerpieces.

1) Sun Sentinel; Cindy Jones-Hulfachor, Karsten Ivey, Len De Groot & Tim Frank; Amendments: Voice of the People
Comments: There were many fine graphics in this category, but only a few combined news value, rigorous enterprise and thoughtful execution. This graphic gives valuable perspective on state government told in an inventive way keyed to nine initiatives set to be voted on in last November’s elections.
2) The Florida Times-Union; Patrick Garvin & Denise Reagan; Escape from Death
3) The Miami Herald; Paul Cheung & Samantha Riepe; Tracking Picks by Clicks

1) The Florida Times-Union; Denise M. Reagan
Comments: From the insanity of the annual Florida-Georgia football game to the gravity of an historic presidential election, these presentations demonstrate a remarkable range and a keen sense of tone. The images are powerful and confidently played. The typography is sharp and elegant, and it never overwhelms the visuals. In all cases, the design stands aside and lets the content come forward, a telltale sign that skillful and ego-free visual editing is taking place here.

1) Florida Catholic; Denise O’Toole Kelly
Comments: These headlines are conversational and lively but also informative. They are clever, yet avoid the pitfall of forced puns–there are some real gems in here. Most importantly, these headlines employ key words from the story without fail, a characteristic of the best headlines.
2) Orlando Sentinel; Liam Miller
Comments: Good use of key words. These provocative headlines point out the story’s conflict, an effective way to get people to try the story.
3) The Palm Beach Post; Mike Tighe
Comments: Good news headlines with a twist. Not overdone with the cleverness, but just enough to pique curiosity.


ABC Action News Staff; I-4 Disaster
Comments: Great effort by the entire WFTS news team. News team enterprise, persistence and resourcefulness was evident. The breaking story was covered well and presented in a straight forward and interesting manner.
2) WFOR-TV; Peter D’Oench, Yuzeith Osorio & Adrienne Roark; Kite Surfer
Comments: Great work by photographer Yuzeith Osorio in capturing video of a kite surfer suddenly pulled by a burst of wind. Yuzeith saw a breaking news story and captured it and then stayed with it, which enabled the reporter to tell the entire story with this video.

1) WTSP-TV; Preston Rudie & Adam D. Vance; Scoreboard Keeper
Comments: An uplifting profile about a college basketball scorekeeper born without arms or legs. Good use of soundbites and game shots. The reporter’s tone hits the right notes by showing what an inspiration he is without overstating the obvious. Nice job.
2) WTVJ-NBC6; Julia Yarbough; Black Divers
Comments: This story about a little known aspect of Florida diving–that slave ships sailed in those waters–and the divers who are mapping it is informative and original. Great underwater photography showing the divers at work. This would make an interesting longer feature.
3) WINK News; Kyle Jordan; Daytripping: Gatorama
Comments: This close-up look at the alligator tourist attraction is a somewhat edgy (will he or won’t he get bitten?) and interesting look at the creators as well as the family who run the place. The in-your-snout view of the alligators is exciting and scary at the same time. Clever alligator “wrestling” ending.

1) WTSP-TV; Mike Deeson & Paul Thorson; Jed Pittman: Full Time Pay, Part Time Job
Comments: I live in Illinois, the so-called “State of Corruption,” and I was appalled at what Clerk of Court Jed Pittman is pulling within the boundaries of Florida law. Good for WTSP for exposing this scam, and hopefully protecting taxpayers of the future. Since Pittman’s not running for re-election, I have to ask: will the taxpayers get stuck with the cost of retirement party number 2? I smell follow-ups until the laws are changed.
2) WINK News; Matthew McConico, Chris Cifatte, Steve LaFranc & Brad Dotson; Guilty Until Proven Innocent
3) WTSP-TV; Tammie Fields & Adam D. Vance; Sweetheart Swindler

1) Bay News 9; Laurie Davison & Jonathan Haas; High School MVP
Comments: This report is a winner because it so clearly found the story’s emotional center. Laurie Davison & Jonathan Haas did a nice job helping us get to know “Eddie,” both as a kid and as an adult. Eddie is definitely someone I’d like to meet, and with his personality will continue to touch the lives of those lucky enough to cross his path.
2) WTSP-TV; Grayson Kamm; Rays Find Success After Dropping the “Devil”
3) WTSP-TV; Angela Jacobs & Adam D. Vance; Major League Tryout

1) WESH-TV2NBC; Greg Fox & Pete Delis; Truth Tests
Comments: Political Reporter Greg Fox and Photographer/Editor Pete Delis have created a series that should be copied by every market in America! Not only do the segments cut through the cheesy chest beating that comes with campaigns… the journalists found a way to convey the truth in a compelling and entertaining way. I love the truth meter, and the sound effects help emphasize how ludicrous or right on some of these spots can be. Nice work!!

1) WPLG-TV; Roger Lohse; Sex Offenders Under Bridges
Comments: It takes guts to stand up for a group as unsympathetic as registered sex offenders. But forcing them to live under bridges so it’s convenient for the Dept. of Corrections to check up on them, come on! The twists and turns of this story became more bizarre with every report. Roger Lohse does an excellent job of talking to everyone impacted by these policies, and directing viewers to the sex offender registry was a nice public service. South Florida should be safer thanks to top notch reporting like this.
2) WTSP-TV; Mike Deeson & Adam Vance; Jail House Justice
3) WINK News; Matthew McConico, Chris Cifatte, Steve LaFranc & Brad Dotson; Guilty Until Proven Innocent

1) WFTS-TV; Kerry Kavanaugh & Frank Barrera; Taking Action for Your Money
Comments: Every entry in this category was strong. This series won because of the variety and timeliness of each report. Kerry Kavanaugh and Frank Barrera did a wonderful job finding stories to save viewers money and didn’t come across as blatantly self promoting. And who doesn’t like that? Nice job!
2) WFTS-TV; Jackie Callaway & Matt McGlashen; Taking Action for You
3) WTSP-TV; Mitchell Wallace & Kathryn Bursch; Duckin’ Around
Comments: This story was a pure joy to watch. The photography and writing were exceptional. I loved the built in suspense of the script, making viewers wait to see the tour bus was also a boat. The story captures Florida tourism for us Northerners and I have to believe locals as well.


1) WTSP-TV; Mike Deeson & Tim Burquest; Bob Henriquez: It Pays to Know People in Power
Comments: Classic, defensive, doublespeak from a powerful official with a guilty conscience. This appears to be thorough reporting from Mike Deeson who obviously has been around, is connected, and who can turn an important story quickly. This was a tough category, but this story stood out because it pointed out a pattern of patronage, not just a single case.
2) WTSP-TV; Mike Deeson & Paul Thorson; Jed Pittman: Full Time Pay, Part Time Job
3) WINK News; Matthew McConico, Chris Cifatte, Steve LaFranc & Brad Dotson; Guilty Until Proven Innocent

1) PRC Digital Media; Bill Retherford, Chris Linke & Ray Hays; Kiss of Life – The 40th Anniversary
Comments: “Kiss of Life” tells many stories–the wonderful life photographer of photographer Rocco Morabito, how an unexpected news shot earned him a Pultizer Prize, the men whose pictures were taken, and how the photo is not only still used, but resonates today. Good use of interviews and achival photos, this well-produced program was also timely, especially given Morabito’s recent death.
2) WINK News; Matthew McConico, Chris Cifatte, Steve LaFranc & Brad Dotson; Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Comments: This performs a public service by letting the public know why the state of Florida is refusing to pay, as required by law, restitution to a man proven to have been wrongly imprisoned for a crime. Hopefully, the station will keep following this story of this one case and beyond. It is a law worth watching.
3) News 13; Scott Harris & Jennifer Cook; For the Record
Comments: This is a local news/editorial discussion program that is actually interesting and has production values beyond studio shots of talking heads pontificating each week. The discussion of NASA’s proposed use or protected wetlands for landing areas was enhanced by it taking place in the actual area and the wonderful scenic shots. The actual discussions were also lively and interesting.

1) WUSF 89.7 News; Bobbie O’Brien; The Learning Curve at Just Elementary
Comments: Great idea for continuing coverage: following one school in its journey from failure in the eyes of the state to significant improvement. Stories were rich with voices and had good use of sound – particularly the hip-hop song about multiplication tables.
2) Under the Sun; Ruth Morris, Kenny Malone, Dan Grech & Alicia Zuckerman; Penny Per Pound
Comments: Stories enganged the listener from the start, beginning with the plight of one particular farm worker. Followed the six-month effort to have restaurant chains pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes to benefit farm workers.
3) WUFT-FM; Donna Green-Townsend & Staff; UF Budget Woes
Comments: Thorough coverage of budget woes at the University of Florida that included interviews with key administrators.

1) Under the Sun; Tristram Korten, Alicia Zuckerman, Dan Grech & Peter J. Maerz; An Old World Craftsman
Comments: We’re introduced to a true old world craftsman whose work making quality pool cues has stood test of time. Good description of shop by reporter and great use of sound from subject and those who appreciate his work. Great choice for a feature – a Holocaust survivor whose work literally saved his life.
2) WUSF Radio; Bobbie O’Brien; Everything is Coming Up Rosa
Comments: Story brings us the wonderful voice and personality of Rosa Rio with her stories of more than 90 years in show business. Good use of music and good writing.
3) WLRN Radio’s South Florida Arts Beat; Adrienne Kennedy, Ed Bell & Charles Greenfield; Mana Zucca
Comments: Good use of music to start piece on classical pianist/child prodigy who had a significant impact on Florida. Interesting to have classical contributor interview his mother, one of Mana Zucca’s earliest students. It worked for this piece — she was a great talker who had great stories about the history of music in Miami.

1) WUFT-FM; Jon Levy; Water Wars
Comments: Well-researched public affairs series. Good use of natural sound to keep listener enganged. Series included interviews from a broad spectrum of interests to cover this significant environmental issue.
2) WUSF Public Broadcasting; Joshua Stewart; Florida Matters: Brain Drain
Comments: Well-assembled roundtable of guests discussing a very important topic in higher education.

1) WLRN – Miami Herald News; Phil Latzman, Michael Hibblen & Tandaleya Wilder; WLRN-Miami Herald News
Comments: Well written newscast with good use of sound. Very thorough coverage of local angles on the eve of the presidential election.


1) Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers; Staff;
Comments: strikes a great balance between a beautifully designed site and the constant state of news. In addition to enjoying the entire layout, I really appreciate the integration of Web-only elements like comments, rotating centerpieces, videos, updating headline feeds and more. Nicely done.
2) Orlando Sentinel; Staff;
Comments: Whether it is through their nicely designed news ticker or the traditional news centerpiece, is the reliable, no-nonsense news source you can count on. I get a real sense of the diversity of content on the homepage.
3) Creative Loafing; Staff;
Comments: This is not your typical news site. represents a new way of presenting news and information to its reader/user. Through a simple design, Creative Loafing offers a wide collection of headlines from just as many distinct sources.

1) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Staff; Tropical Storm Fay: The Storm That Wouldn’t Leave
Comments: Breaking news is a natural for online, but too often stops with a “just the facts’’ treatment. The Daytona Beach News Journal team dug deeper, finding the personal stories, the experts and the next day angles to engage as well as inform. And in covering a storm that wouldn’t leave, they demonstrated hard work and imagination that didn’t give up and didn’t fall back on tired cliches.

1) Creative Loafing; Wayne Garcia; The Political Whore
Comments: Don’t let the title fool you: Aside from local and national politics, this blog takes on a long list of hot-button topics ranging from the economy to “Octomom.” And with a quick-hit style that includes podcasts and embeded video, it’s never boring.
2) New Times Broward Palm Beach; Staff; The Juice Blog
Comments: This blog is a nice mix of localized pop culture and news items. The snarky tone of the writing that comes with the territory at news weeklies is particularly appropriate for a blog like this.
3) Sun Sentinel; Anthony Man, Scott Wyman, Brittany Wallman & Russell Small; Broward Politics
Comments: Political junkies in the Fort Lauderdale area are well served by this blog and the reporting staff behind it.


1) Orlando Sentinel; Staff; Rising Seas
Comments: This project took a very global phenomenon, climate change, and made it relevant for its own communities. Using straightforward graphics and animation to explain the science and making use of photography and topographical maps, this project explained in detail just how much Florida would be affected. Excellent use of the medium, using animation to further the story. Great design and usability.
2) The Florida Times-Union;
Jon M. Fletcher, Bridget Murphy, Kelly Jordan & Joe Allen-Black; Hitching at the Crossroads
Comments: This project used vignettes to tell a powerful story in audio, photography and text of a world most of us can only guess at. Presented in black and white, it allowed each hitchhiker to tell their story in their own words, without a lot of embellishment. Restrained use of music set a mood without interfering with the journalism. A well-executed presentation.
3) The Tampa Tribune; Lindsay Peterson, Kathy Moore, Vidisha Priyanka & Andy Dorsett; Disaster on I-4
Comments: This project took the story of a huge interstate crash and broke it down into digestible segments to tell the individual tale of one man’s rescue. Using photography, audio and video, it made use of news video and dispatch calls from the day, weaving them into a complete story with interviews with the victims. Along with supplemental material like 911 calls, updates, and text stories, this presentation told the story of this day. Great use of photography and supporting material to make the main presentation feel fully complete.

1) New Times Broward Palm Beach; Staff; The Juice Blog
Comments: Good, clean design. Thorough navigation and use of the area above the scroll. The Juice Blog’s personality shines through via design.
2) Orlando Business Journal; Staff; Orlando Business Journal
Comments: Clean, open design with access to nearly all of the content above the scroll. But needs some polish and detail work to take it to the next level.
3) The Daytona Beach News-Journal; Chrissy Clary;
Comments: The site makes a good attempt at organization, but would benefit from style changes–particularly in fonts and colors–to complement the content. Lose some of the clutter.


1) University of Miami; Greg Linch
Comments: The package of material Greg submitted was very polished. We were impressed to see that he could tell a strong story in different media platforms. In addition, his experience as editor-in-chief of The Miami Hurricane and as an intern at the Miami Herald shows that he is dedicated to journalism and is doing all he can to better prepare himself for an eventual career in the industry. We wish him the best of luck.

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