Univision takes home 16 Sunshine State awards; Sun Sentinel team wins top James Batten Award

Staff report| SizingUpTheSouth.com

SPJ Florida Pro Chapter and its partner NAHJ South Florida announces its 25th Annual Sunshine State Award at an award ceremony in Fort Lauderdale on July 20. Univision left with 16 Sunshine State Awards and South Florida Sun Sentinel wins the James Batten Award for public service for their coverage of the Parkland shootings coverage.

See full list of winners
The 2019 Sunshine State Awards ceremony was held at CI Studios in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo by Carina Mask

“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.

Christiana Lilly

With over 110 categories within the Sunshine State Awards, journalists from Spanish-speaking publications, newspapers, digital and broadcast news organizations, the awards recognize Florida journalists and newsrooms who made a distinctive impact and excellence in journalism in 2018.

“We don’t do what we do for the awards but once a year its wonderful to get together with colleagues across the state to recognize the hard work we put into telling the stories of the Sunshine State,” said Lilly. Defending the First Amendment in Florida was also a great motivation to continue to produce great work, she said.

A top honor, winning the James Batten Award for Public Service, was given to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The judges of this award writes that Sun Sentinel provided “stunning reporting that exposed deep problems and cover up efforts” after the Parkland shootings and their work “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 resistence — a time when public service journalism matters most.”

Sunshine State Awards judge writes about the Sun Sentinel‘s coverage of the Parkland shootings.

One judge stated, “This is truly standout reporting in the face of tragedy and resistance — a time when public service journalism matters most.”

Kathleen McGrory

The Journalist of the Year award was given to Kathleeen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times for her indepth series on Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. One judge writes, “Kathleen McGrory writes with incredible breadth and depth” to combine effective storytelling, proven documentation and data that exposed how the institution might have masked over shoddy surgery that might have claimed lives.

Emerald S. Morrow of WTSP-TV (CBS) was honored with the Diversity Award; Luis Hernandez from WLRN News won Anchor of the Year; and Timothy F. Kania from Spectrum Bay News 9 won Photographer of the Year. The Outstanding New Journalist honor went to Jack Evans from the Tampa Bay Times.

See full list of winners

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