Univision takes home 16 awards; Sun Sentinel team wins top James Batten Award
SPJ Florida partnered with NAHJ South Florida to host the 25th Annual Sunshine State Awards in Fort Lauderdale, announcing the winners of the annual contest to recognize the best of Florida journalism.
Univision had another successful year, winning 16 Sunshine State Awards. Another bigger winner was South Florida Sun Sentinel for their Parkland coverage.
SPJ Florida partnered with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ South Florida chapter to include Spanish-language awards for the sixth year in a row.
"2018 was a year that challenged us as journalists in Florida—the shooting in Parkland, Hurricane Michael devastating the Panhandle, the midterm elections, and more," said SPJ Florida Past President Christiana Lilly. "We don’t do what we do for the awards, but once a year it’s wonderful to get together with colleagues across the state to recognize the hard work we put into telling the stories of the Sunshine State, and continue to motivate each other to report the news and defend the First Amendment."
South Florida Sun Sentinel won first place for its Parkland coverage in five categories, including the highest honor of the night, The James Batten Award for Public Service.
The judges said of the winner: “Stunning reporting that exposed deep problems and coverup efforts. The work of the Sun Sentinel staff on Parkland coverage drove important conversations locally and across the country on how schools should protect students. This is truly standout reporting in the face of tragedy and resistance – a time when public service journalism matters most.”
The Journalist of the Year award went to Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times.
Of McGroy’s work, the judges said: “Kathleen McGrory writes with incredible breadth and depth. Her investigative series on Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital combined effective storytelling with damning documents and data to show how the institution had masked over shoddy surgery that needlessly claimed many lives.”
This year’s Diversity Award went to Emerald S. Morrow of WTSP-TV (CBS); Luis Hernandez from WLRN News won the top prize Anchor of the Year, and Timothy F. Kania from Spectrum Bay News 9 won Photographer of the Year. Jack Evans from Tampa Bay Times won Outstanding New Journalist.
The Sunshine State Awards, now in its 24th year, recognizes the best in Florida journalism. Out-of-state journalists chose first, second, and third place honors in each category. The Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is the four-time winner of SPJ’s Chapter of the Year award — the Society’s most coveted group award. Join SPJ now and make sure to put SPJ Florida as your chapter. It’s no extra cost to you: the chapter doesn’t charge chapter dues.