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FLORIDA TODAY team wins multiple journalism awards

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Growing up, I was taught not to brag. But with apologies to my parents, I can’t help myself: FLORIDA TODAY won multiple journalism awards this year.

The awards cited our investigative reporting and feature writing, as well as spot news photography and columns, among other areas. Judges honored our coverage of the Artemis 1 launch, investigative reporting into behind-the-scenes election meddling by an elected official and feature stories about Black Jews and Juneteenth.

Veteran photojournalist Malcolm Denemark took home first place in Spot News Photography in the Florida Society of News Editors’ 2023 contest for his photo of the Artemis 1 launch. Denemark’s photo captured the streak of NASA’s super-sized rocket with the moon in the background.

“With SpaceX launching Starlink missions almost weekly, launches have become commonplace on the Space Coast,” Denemark said. “The Artemis launch was something different, years behind schedule, billions over budget, but this was NASA’s rocket to get back to the moon. The Artemis launch was a whole different energy in Brevard … The rocket launching, with the moon in the sky its destination, was an almost serendipitous image.”

Judges agreed.

Launch of the maiden voyage of NASA's Space Launch System rocket. The Artemis I mission launched at 1:47 a.m. Wednesday morning November 16th, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B. Launch viewed from Harbortown Marina on Merritt Island. The last quarter of the full moon visible in the sky. This photo earned photographer Malcolm Denemark first place in the spot news category of the FSNE 2023 awards.(Credit: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)

In the prestigious Society of Professional Journalists’ Green Eyeshade Awards, which pits FLORIDA TODAY against papers throughout the Southeast, FLORIDA TODAY took home second and third place awards.

Investigative reporter Eric Rogers won second place for Investigative Reporting for his series of stories looking at the role Sheriff Wayne Ivey played behind the scenes during the election. Rogers’ reporting found that Ivey was trying to stack the deck for favored candidates by offering their challengers political jobs worth up to $50,000 a year to drop out of the race.

Expanding influejnce:Overreach? Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey tries to influence public policy beyond policing

Criminal justice reporter J.D. Gallop took third place for Feature Writing for a series of pieces including a look at Black Jews facing the double mix of antisemitism and racism; Juneteenth a holiday celebrated and questioned; and former felons demonized for seeking to vote.

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Business editor Dave Berman was also part of a USA TODAY Network-Florida team that won third place in Green Eyeshade Awards for Business Reporting for a package of stories about Amazon’s role and impact in Florida.

FLORIDA TODAY’s engagement editor John A. Torres won second place in the prestigious Parker Thomson Media Awards’ print category awarded by the Media and Communications Law Committee of The Florida Bar. Torres won for a selection of stories include his reporting on Crosley Green and on Nino Lyons’ unsuccessful bid to secure a high school basketball coaching job in Brevard Public Schools.

Why not?:Mentor, activist, exoneree, legend … why can’t Nino Lyons get a basketball coaching job in Brevard?

In addition to Denemark’s first place photography win in the FSNE contest, FLORIDA TODAY also took home:

  • Second place in Investigative Reporting for Eric Rogers’ stories on the sheriff’s election meddling.
  • Second place in Enterprise Stories for Eric Rogers’ stories on politics, politicians and elections.
  • Second place for Columns by engagement editor John A. Torres.
  • Third place in Enterprise Stories for space reporters Emre Kelly and Jamie Groh for their coverage around the Artemis rocket launch.

Too costly?:NASA’s big gamble: Is new rocket too costly to launch us back to the moon?

  • Third place in Feature Writing for criminal justice reporter J.D. Gallop for his story “Black and Jewish.”
  • Third place in Beat Reporting by space reporter Emre Kelly for his space reporting.

FLORIDA TODAY is also a finalist in numerous categories in the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards, which will be announced later this month. Environment reporter Jim Waymer is a finalist in the Environment, Science and Technology category for his work. J.D. Gallop is a finalist for his reporting on underserved communities.

Different approaches:Florida and New York share an interstate, but their COVID cultures are worlds apart

Earlier this year, FLORIDA TODAY also won a Best of Gannett from our parent company for a story last year, anchored by FLORIDA TODAY’s food writer Suzy Leonard and a colleague in New York state, comparing Florida and New York COVID-19 cultures.

As I’ve written here before, we don’t pursue journalism to win awards but it feels good when we do.

Mara Bellaby is executive editor of FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Bellaby at mbellaby@floridatoday.com.

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