Sun staff wins seven state awards

ST. PETERSBURG – Anna Maria Island Sun staffers earned seven awards in the 2018-19 Florida Press Association Weekly Newspaper Contest at the 2019 Florida Media Conference on July 12.

Awards include general excellence, online breaking news and defense of the First Amendment.

First place in the First Amendment Defense category (the Jon A. Roosenraad Award), competing against Florida newspapers of all sizes, went to Joe Hendricks for “Sunshine lawsuit,” beat coverage of Bradenton Beach litigation surrounding a city committee’s alleged violations of the Florida Sunshine Law. The judges commented, “These articles are filled with detail, depth and factual information on what was a no question hyper-important situation in this local government. I felt this was done very well, and the extent of coverage itself was a proof of the paper’s desire to protect the First Amendment and hold government official accountable. Great overall work in this category, especially when compared to other entries.”

First place in Online Breaking News Coverage, competing against Florida newspaper websites in all circulation categories, went to Digital Editor Cindy Lane and reporters Joe Hendricks and Kristin Swain for “Surf shop fire” at the iconic West Coast Surf Shop in Holmes Beach. The judges commented, “Well done. Thorough reporting. I like the way you labeled and added the update.”

First place in Original Local Editorial Cartoon went to Sun political cartoonist Steve Borggren for “Gas Mask,” picturing Southwest Florida wearing a gas mask during a persistent bloom of red tide last summer. The judges commented, “Just one glance and this one quickly tells the whole story.”

Second place in General Excellence went to The Anna Maria Island Sun staff for overall excellence in reporting, photography and design. The judges commented, “A paper willing to express opinions on local issues, in addition to having a good selection of letters to the editor and a local editorial cartoonist. Plus a reader survey question with results displayed in a colorful pie chart graphic. Solid coverage of local events and issues like a duck hunting controversy (and editorial)… Nice index across bottom of Page 1 to lead readers inside. Good advertising enterprise around “Newspaper In Paradise” content. More local sports would be nice.”

Second place in Agricultural and Environmental Reporting went to Cindy Lane for “Oil drilling in the Gulf,” a series tracking the progress of an ultimately victorious state constitutional amendment to ban oil and gas drilling in state waters. The judges commented, “This series studies looming oil exploration in local waters with detailed coverage about what’s planned, possible impact and legislative efforts to restrain a petroleum juggernaut. Diligent reporting keeps readers informed.”

Second place in the Outdoor and Recreation category went to Cindy Lane for “Fishermen to cast vote against net ban,” a series about the ultimately unsuccessful effort of commercial fishermen to get a state constitutional amendment passed overturning the 1995 gill net ban. The judges commented, “Solid reporting on a story that has a strong impact on the community and state of fishing.”

Third place in the Outdoor and Recreation category went to Reel Time columnist Rusty Chinnis for “Show them the courtesy,” tips of the trade for fishing courteously. The judges commented, “Nice piece on the power of being a good fisherman.”