20th Annual Sunshine State Awards

Finalists Announced!


Awards ceremony to be held Saturday, August 16 at Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Finalists in each category are presented in alphabetical order by organization.

First- second- and third-place finishers will be announced at an upcoming SPJ Florida event.

To correct errors or omissions, please contact Tim Dodson.


James Batten Award for Public Service

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Michael Braga & Anthony Cormier, Breaking the Banks
  • Tampa Bay Times– Will Hobson & Michael LaForgia, A Home, But No Help
  • Tampa Bay Times & The Center for Investigative Reporting – Center for Investigative Reporting Staff & Tampa Bay Times Staff, America’s Worst Charities

Gene Miller Award for Investigative Reporting

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Michael Braga & Anthony Cormier, Breaking the Banks
  • Tampa Bay Times – Will Hobson & Michael LaForgia, A home, but no help
  • Virgin Islands Daily News– Lou Mattei, J. Lowe Davis, Stephen Cheslik & Gerry Yandel, EMS in Chaos

Diversity Award

  • New Times Broward-Palm Beach– Kyle Swenson, Biking While Black
  • The News-Press – Janine Zeitlin & Melanie Payne, Dreaming in Color
  • WFTV-TV– Nancy Alvarez, Nancy Alavarez

First Amendment Foundation Freedom of Information Award

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Michael Braga & Anthony Cormier, Breaking the Banks
  • The Associated Press– Mike Schneider, Sunshine Week-Court Records
  • Watchdog City– Gina Edwards, Risky, secretive private equity investments cost Florida Pension fund $1 billion on six deals

Integrity Florida Award for Public Corruption Reporting

  • Tampa Bay Times – Michael LaForgia, No Cash Left Behind
  • The Miami Herald– Patricia Mazzei, The Case of the Phantom Ballots
  • WTSP-TV– Mike Deeson, Amy Marinec, Paul Thorson & Melissa Rancourt, Mike Deeson Investigates Government Corruption

Journalist of the Year

  • Fort Myers Florida Weekly – Athena Ponushis, Journalist of the year Athena Ponushis Florida Weekly
  • WFTS-TV– Jacqueline Ingles, Jacqueline Ingles 2013 Compilation
  • WLRN-Miami Herald News– Sammy Mack, Sammy Mack

Anchor of the Year

  • Bay News 9 – Veronica Cintron, Veronica Cintron Anchor composite
  • WWSB-TV– John McQuiston, News Anchor John McQuiston


Breaking News Reporting – Large Papers

  • The Daytona Beach News-Journal– Frank Fernandez & Andrew Gant, Flagler Plane Crash
  • The Miami Herald – Patricia Mazzei, David Ovalle, Enrique Flor & Maria Perez, Horror in Hialeah: Shooting spree is deadliest South Florida rampage in decades
  • The Palm Beach Post– Alexandra Seltzer, Ana Valdes & Allison Ross, Custodian Murders 

Breaking News Reporting – Small Papers

  • Naples Daily News – Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Jacob Carpenter, Eric Staats & Kristine Gill, U.S. Rep. Trey Radel charged with possession of cocaine, takes leave of absence to enter rehabilitation
  • St. Croix Avis– Staff, St. Croix hospital in crisis
  • The News-Press– Staff, It’s Hertz

Non-Deadline News Reporting – Large Papers

  • Tampa Bay Times – William R. Levesque, Joseph Garnett Jr., Steve Madden & Alexis Sanchez, Atomic Sailors
  • The Tampa Tribune– Elaine Silvestrini, Elaine Silvestrini, Tax Fraud
  • The Tampa Tribune– Howard Altman, Military families cope with suicides

Non-Deadline News Reporting – Small Papers

  • The News-Press – Cristela Guerra, A Spark of Hope: One Family’s Journey
  • Virgin Islands Daily News– Amanda Norris, Gerry Yandel, Aldeth Lewin & Stephen Cheslik, Hospital’s Hazardous Waste
  • Virgin Islands Daily News– Lou Mattei, J. Lowe Davis, Stephen Cheslik & Gerry Yandel, EMS in Chaos

Feature Reporting – Large Papers

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Gabrielle Russon, My Son the Tin Man
  • The Miami Herald– Kathleen McGrory, Field of Dakota Dreams
  • The Palm Beach Post– Carlos Frias, Side-by-side through a dark world

Feature Reporting – Small Papers

  • Daytona Beach News-Journal– Deborah Circelli, Too Proud to Tell
  • Lakeland Ledger– Gary White, Alzheimer’s Patient Bennie Walker
  • Miami New Times – Michael Miller, Memories of Murder


  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Michael Braga & Anthony Cormier, Breaking the Banks
  • Tampa Bay Times – Staff, The last voyage of the Bounty
  • The Tampa Tribune– Howard Altman, Special Operations: Afghanistan and Beyond

Commentary & Criticism – General

  • Orlando Sentinel– Scott Maxwell, “My weekend at ‘sex camp’ was an eye-opener”; “Legislators are hypocrites on health care”; “Test obsession hurts families of disabled”
  • The Miami Herald– Fred Grimm, Fred Grimm portfolio
  • Treasure Coast Newspapers – Eve Samples, Collection of work by Eve Samples

Commentary & Criticism – Arts

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Wade Tatangelo, Wade Tatangelo (Collection)
  • South Florida Gay News – J.W. Arnold, Dance, Theater and Opera Reviews – South Florida Gay News
  • The News-Press– Charles Runnells, Best of Charles Runnells’ Art Commentary

Editorial Writing

  • South Florida Times– Robert Beatty & Mohamed Hamaludin, End war on drugs; America’s shame; Save our boys
  • The Florida Times-Union– Wayne Ezell, Juvenile Justice Reform
  • Treasure Coast Newspapers – Rich Campbell, Collection of work by Rich Campbell

Editorial Cartoon

  • Baker County Press– Ed Hall, Portfolio of cartoons published in 2013
  • Florida Today – Jeff Parker, Jeff Parker Editorial Cartoons
  • Sarasota News Leader– John Riley, Commissioner Joe Barbetta favors developers over county’s smart-growth plan; City of Sarasota seeks to reduce parking budget deficit by sharply raising fees; County Commission ban on smoking on Siesta Beach is thrown out by judge

Beat Reporting – Arts

  • The Miami Herald– Jordan Levin, Jordan Levin portfolio
  • The News-Press – Annabelle Tometich, Best of Food Writer Annabelle Tometich
  • The News-Press– Charles Runnells, Arts Beat Reporter Charles Runnell’s Best Work

Beat Reporting – Business

  • South Florida Business Journal – Brian Bandell, Cash, Condos & Criminals
  • Tampa Bay Times– Drew Harwell, A collection of stories by Drew Harwell
  • The Miami Herald– Hannah Sampson, Hannah Sampson portfolio

Beat Reporting – Children’s Issues

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Gabrielle Russon, Gabrielle Russon (Collection)
  • The Gainesville Sun– Erin Jester, Erin Jester Children’s Issues Reporting

Beat Reporting – Community

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Jessie Van Berkel, Jessie Van Berkel (Collection)
  • The Miami Herald– Jenny Staletovich, Andres Viglucci & Patricia Borns, West Grove vs. Coral Gables, plus toxic soil in neighborhood parks
  • The Tampa Tribune– Howard Altman, Military Community, Howard Altman

Beat Reporting – Consumer Issues

  • Orlando Sentinel– Richard Burnett, Richard Burnett – Portfolio – Consumer Issues
  • The Palm Beach Post – Charles Elmore, Insurer to end gotcha denials; 2 charged in massive Medicaid fraud
  • The Tampa Tribune– Richard Mullins, Richard Mullins, Consumer Issues

Beat Reporting – Crime/Courts

  • Tampa Bay Times– Peter Jamison, A collection of stories by Peter Jamison
  • The Associated Press– Curt Anderson, Florida Law
  • The Miami Herald – Julie Brown, Julie K. Brown portfolio

Beat Reporting – Education

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Chris Anderson & Katy Bergen, A School in Crisis
  • The Gainesville Sun– Jeff Schweers, Jeff Schweers Education Reporting
  • The Miami Herald– Michael Vasquez, Michael Vasquez, collection

Beat Reporting – Environmental/Health/Science

  • Florida Today– Jim Waymer, Brevard County Environmental reporting
  • The Daytona Beach News-Journal– Dinah Voyles Pulver, Dinah Pulver collection
  • The Gainesville Sun – Kristine Crane, Kristine Crane Health Reporting

Beat Reporting – Government/Politics

  • The Associated Press– Michael J. Mishak, Florida Politics
  • The Miami Herald– Christina Veiga, Douglas Hanks, Andres Viglucci & Beth Dunlop, Miami Beach Convention Center: The Billion Dollar Baby
  • The Palm Beach Post – John Kennedy, John Kennedy collection

Beat Reporting – Minority Issues

  • Miami New Times– Michael Miller, Bloody Tide
  • South Florida Business Journal– Brian Bandell, Minorities struggle to overcome loan denials
  • South Florida Gay News – Christiana Lilly, Christiana Lilly’s LGBT Reporting

Beat Reporting – Religion

  • The Coastal Star– Tim Pallesen, Religion Beat Tim
  • The Tampa Tribune – Michelle Bearden, Michelle Bearden, Religion Beat
  • Treasure Coast Newspapers– Zaimarie De Guzman, Collection of work by Zaimarie De Guzman 

Beat Reporting – Sports

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Chris Anderson, Chris Anderson Collection
  • The Associated Press– Jennifer Kay, Diana Nyad Swim
  • The News-Press – Dan DeLuca, Dodgertown

Special Publication/Section

  • Creative Loafing– Staff, The Food Issue: The Regulars
  • Fort Myers Florida Weekly– Staff, The Best
  • The Villages Daily Sun – Bonita Burton, Brittany Van Heyningen, Cal Gaines & Thomas Marcetti, When We Were Soldiers


Breaking News Photography – Large Papers

  • The Florida Times-Union– Bob Self, Murder
  • The Tampa Tribune – Andy Jones, Errant bear finds no respite in Tampa
  • The Tampa Tribune– Chris Urso, Husband Found Not Guilty

Breaking News Photography – Small Papers

  • Lakeland Ledger– Scott Wheeler, Funeral of a Deputy
  • The Gainesville Sun – Doug Finger, Boy, 3, found dead in abandoned pool
  • Treasure Coast Newspapers– Sam Wolfe, Brush fire shuts down I-95

Feature Photography

  • Gulfstream Media Group– Jason Nuttle, Jupiter Magazine – Justin Riney
  • Naples Daily News– David Albers, Blue Heron scatters fish
  • Ocala Star-Banner – Doug Engle, Lamb Roudup

Photography Story

  • Naples Daily News– Corey Perrine, Life After Limb
  • Ocala Star-Banner– Alan Youngblood, Fragile Springs
  • The Palm Beach Post – Bruce Bennett, Mark Edelson, Casey’s Journey

Art/Photo Illustration

  • Fort Myers Florida Weekly– Eric Raddatz, art/photo illustrations by Eric Raddatz Florida Weekly
  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Ron Borresen & Jen Borresen, Herald-Tribune/Collection
  • The News-Press – Michael Babin, FGCU and the NCAA: Welcome to the Dance


  • Sun Sentinel – Cindy Jones-Hulfachor, David Schutz, Sally Kestin & Dana Willliams, Sex Predators Unleashed
  • The Florida Times-Union– Steve Nelson, Reason
  • The Tampa Tribune– Michael Servidio, Sapp: Inside the number 99

Front Page Design – Large Papers

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Staff, Front Page Design-Collection
  • Tampa Bay Times – Staff, Tampa Bay Times Page One Design
  • The Tampa Tribune– Tribune Staff, 1A Design

Front Page Design – Small Papers

  • Creative Loafing– Todd Bates, The Sex & Love Issue; Trashed; The Food Issue: The Regulars
  • The News-Press– Michael Babin, Josh Ulrich & Kayla Golliher, It was horrible; Legacy for the ages; Poisoned homes
  • The Villages Daily Sun – Bonita Burton, Thomas Marcetti, Bill Bootz & Adam Rogers, MLK: Aug. 28; Shutdown Showdown: Oct. 2; Year in Review: Dec. 31 


Investigative Reporting – Magazine

  • Florida Center for Investigative Reporting– Trevor Aaronson, How the FBI in Boston May Have Pursued the Wrong ‘Terrorist’
  • Sarasota Magazine – Phillippe Diederich, Off These Mean Streets

Feature Reporting – Magazine

  • Sarasota Magazine – Adam Davies, The Loneliest Lemur on Earth
  • Sarasota Magazine– Craig Pittman, Loved to Death
  • Sarasota Magazine– Michael Riedel, For Love or Money

Profile Reporting

  • Mirror Magazine– Christiana Lilly, The Real Doogie Howser: At 16 Jack Andraka Invented a New Way to Detect Pancreatic Cancer
  • Sun Sentinel– Elizabeth Rahe, Bob and Ginny Newhart
  • Super Lawyers – Carlos Harrison & Amy Kates, Making It, Baking It, Taking It

Commentary & Criticism – Magazine

  • Fort Lauderdale Magazine – Tom Swick, It’s All Relatives, The State of Summer, Boat People
  • Sarasota Magazine– Robert Plunket, Destination: Architecture
  • Sun Sentinel– Mark Gauert, First Words – the Editor & Publisher’s letter

Trade/Special Interest Publication

  • 850 – The Business Magazine of Northwest Florida– Linda Kleindienst, Lizzie Moore, Scott Holstein & Larry Davidson, The Upside of Florida; The Jobs Governor
  • Sun Sentinel– Mark Gauert & Anderson Greene, City & Shore Magazine
  • The Triton – The Staff, The Triton June and August 2013

Cover Design

  • Gulfstream Media Group – Craig Cottrell &Staff, Gold Coast Magazine – April, Summer and October Covers
  • Sarasota Magazine– Gigi Ortwein, Sarasota Magazine
  • South Florida Opulence Magazine– Adriana Naylor & Robin Jay, Summer 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014

Inside Design

  • South Florida Opulence Magazine – Adriana Naylor, ALCHEMIE PHOTOGRAPHIC
  • South Florida Opulence Magazine– Adriana Naylor, Painted Alive – the Living Illusions of Craig Tracy
  • South Florida Opulence Magazine– Adriana Naylor, TRUTH OR TALE?

Best Single Issue

  • Sarasota Magazine – Staff, Sarasota Magazine, April 2013
  • South Florida Gay News– Jason Parsley, The Mirror, Fall 2013
  • Tallahassee Magazine– Rosanne Dunkleberger, Larry Davidson & Staff, September/October ‘The Issue of Health Care’


Best Newscast – TV

  • WFTS-TV – ABC Action News Staff, ABC Action News at 5pm
  • Central Florida News 13– Staff, News 13 Morning News for March 18, 2013

Investigative Reporting – TV

  • WFLA-TV– Mark Douglas & Todd Davis, Good Touch, Bad Touch
  • WFLA-TV– Stephen Andrews & Gordon Dempsey, A Violated Trust
  • WFTS-TV – Adam Walser, Fran Gilpin, Randy Wright & Doug Iten, Incapacitated: Florida’s Guardianship Program 

Spot News Reporting – TV

  • Central Florida News 13– Sandra Osborne, Cemetery with Secrets
  • WBBH-TV– Nick Ciletti, Hometown Heartbreak
  • WFTS-TV – ABC Action News Staff, USF Suspect Chase

Government Coverage – TV

  • WESH-TV – Greg Fox, Expressway Scandal: Taking A Toll On Sunshine Laws?
  • WPTV-TV– Lynn Walsh & Dan Krauth, Government Workers Running Reds
  • WTSP-TV– Mike Deeson, Amy Marinec, Paul Thorson & Melissa Rancourt, Living High on the Hog

Continuing Coverage – TV

  • Bay News 9– Bay News 9 Staff, Boston Bombing Manhunt
  • WFLA-TV– Rod Carter, Malik Parler & Eric Hausmann, On a Bus Bound for History: Covering the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
  • WFTS-TV – Adam Walser, Ryan Raiche, Matt McGlashen & Doug Iten, Lakeland Police Investigation

Feature Reporting – TV

  • WBBH-TV – Lindsay Logue & Scott Reilly, Medical Breakthroughs at Mayo Clinic
  • WJCT-TV– Bill Retherford & Rich Conner, “Crocumentary – Adventures @ St. Augustine Alligator Farm”
  • WPTV-TV– Dan Krauth, Abandoned Dogs in the Everglades

Public Affairs – TV

  • Central Florida News 13– Gary Darling & Ybeth Bruzual, Political Connections
  • WFLA-TV – Mark Douglas & Todd Davis, Roofer Ripoffs
  • WJCT-TV– Bill Retherford, Rich Conner, “Ax Handle Saturday – Jax & Race, Then + Now”


Best Newscast – Radio

  • WLRN-Miami Herald News– Kelley Mitchell, Rick Stone & WLRN-Miami Herald News Staff, The Demise of DOMA
  • WLRN-Miami Herald News – WLRN-Miami Herald News Staff & Kelley Mitchell, Chavez Dies
  • WUSF-FM– Carson Cooper, PRNDI Award Entry: Best Newscast

General Coverage – Radio

  • WFSU-FM– Staff, How’s It Working In Tallahsassee?
  • WLRN-Miami Herald News – WLRN-Miami Herald News Staff, Elevation Zero: Rising Seas in South Florida
  • WUSF-FM– John O’Connor, Award Entry General Coverage: Common Core

Investigative Reporting – Radio

  • WFSU-FM – Lynn Hatter, Groups Unaffiliated With ‘ObamaCare’ Try To Cash In

Government Coverage – Radio

  • WFSU-FM – Jessica Palombo, South Florida Assisted Living Facility Still Open After License Revoked
  • WFSU-FM– Sascha Cordner, Advocates Hope Governor Will Sign Bill Extending Age For Foster Care Kids
  • WFSU-FM– Sascha Cordner, Fla. Advocates For Developmentally Disabled Urge Lawmakers To Put An End To ‘R-Word’

Feature Reporting – Radio

  • WFSU-FM– Jessica Palombo, Florida Man Airs Grievances With Festivus Pole In Capitol
  • WLRN-Miami Herald News – Rick Stone, Why Modern Human Beings Aren’t Built to Grasp Climate Change
  • WUSF-FM– Bobbie O’Brien & Andrew Casey, Autism Defined by Those with the Diagnosis

Public Affairs – Radio

  • WLRN-Miami Herald News – Elaine Chen & Tom Hudson, The Florida Roundup: Can DCF Be Fixed?
  • WUSF-FM– Dalia Colon, Bobbie O’Brien & Carson Cooper, Florida Matters: Curbing Gun Violence
  • WUSF-FM– Lottie Watts, Florida Matters: Medical Marijuana


Blog – Affiliated

  • Miami New Times – Kyle Munzenrieder, Michael Miller & Terrence McCoy, Riptide News Blog
  • Sun Sentinel– Anthony Man, Brittany Wallman& Larry Barszewski, Sun Sentinel’s Broward Politics blog
  • Sun Sentinel– Doreen Christensen, Shop-O-Matic

Blog – Independent


News Web Site

  • Florida Center for Investigative Reporting– Staff, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
  • The Daytona Beach News-Journal– Staff, News Journal Online
  • The News-Press – Staff,

Package – Online

  • Sarasota Herald-Tribune– Tony Elkins, Patrick Carroll, J. David McSwane & Dan Wagner, “The Stolen Ones”
  • Sun Sentinel– Rachel Schallom, Sally Kestin, Dana Williams & Mike Stocker, Sex Predators Unleashed
  • The News-Press – Janine Zeitlin, Melanie Payne, Guy Tubbs & Wes Hulette, Dreaming in Color

User-Generated Content – Online

  • The News-Press – Juan Buitrago & Wes Hulette, JFK: A Nation Remembers
  • WLRN-Miami Herald News– Kenny Malone, Producer Gabe Gravin, David Kobert, Gustavo Matamoros & Rebekah Monson, Remix the News: Dolphin Stadium Edition
  • WLRN-Miami Herald News– Terence Shepherd, Elaine Chen & WLRN-Miami Herald News Staff, Session 2013- WLRN’s Public Engagement

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