The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting won four honors in this year’s Sunshine State Awards, a statewide journalism competition administered by the South Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
For the second year in a row, FCIR won first place in Best News Web Site. The judges said of FCIR: “Strong original content — prominent, unapologetic, undisturbed by flashy fare. A useful site for readers who want to go deep — and a solid home for focused journalism.” Second place in the category went to the Tampa Bay Times and third place to WLRN-Miami Herald News.
FCIR also won first and second place in Investigative Reporting for Radio.
First place went to “13th Grade,” a collaboration involving John O’Connor and Sarah Gonzalez of StateImpact Florida and Mc Nelly Torres and Lynn Waddell of FCIR. “This series is fantastic. It’s an important issue, and the style is intimate, human and engaging,” judges said.
Second place in the category went to a collaborative report between FCIR and WUSF 89.7 News that explored how the U.S. Postal Service hadn’t investigated a toxic spill that critically injured an employee in Orlando. The story, reported by Steve Newborn of WUSF and Trevor Aaronson and J.J. Barrow of FCIR, prompted a federal investigation and demonstrations by USPS employees in Orlando. “Great scenes; I felt like I got to know the characters in this story. I could see this investigation having an impact,” the judges wrote.
Finally, Ashley Lopez’s series about the 11 constitutional amendments on the 2012 Florida ballot was honored yet again.
Lopez’s series, a collaboration between FCIR and Florida’s NPR member stations, received first place in General Coverage for Radio.
“Beyond the superb reporting in the series, this very impartial look at the impact of proposed amendments was a great public service to the citizens of Florida,” the judges said. “Ms. Lopez clearly poured her heart, soul and time into creating this body of work and it deserves not only this award but the highest praise possible.”
The series has also received a second-place award in the national Public Radio News Directors Inc. awards and a first-place honor in Public Service in Radio Journalism at the Green Eyeshade Awards.