Pulitzer Prizes for Tampa Bay Times, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Charlotte Sun
The Tampa Bay Times won two Pulitzer Prizes on Monday for investigations that exposed rampant indifference and inequity in Florida's state-run mental health system and in five predominantly African-American Pinellas County schools.
Times reporters Leonora LaPeter Anton, 51, and Anthony Cormier, 37, won the award for investigative reporting after a year-long examination of Florida's six primary mental health hospitals. The reporting, as part of a joint project with Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Michael Braga, uncovered a pattern of neglect and $100 million in budget cuts that created warehouses of violence where deaths and violent attacks spiked.
Reporters Cara Fitzpatrick, 35, Lisa Gartner, 28, and Michael LaForgia, 32, won the award for local reporting. Using data and powerful narrative accounts, the reporters detailed how the Pinellas County School Board's 2007 decision to abandon integration followed by years of neglect turned five once-average St. Petersburg schools into some of the worst in the state of Florida. The Times investigation prompted a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Education Department. Both projects were edited by Chris Davis, 43 the Times' Deputy Managing Editor for Investigations and Data.
Also, Jack Hackworth, of Sun Newspapers in Charlotte Harbor, Fla., won for editorials on a deadly assault of an inmate by guards.
"This is a great day for Florida journalism," Tampa Bay Times Editor and Vice President Neil Brown told the newsroom in St. Petersburg.
The awards reflect the Times' core and ongoing mission of making the world and our community better, Brown said, and serve as a reminder of why Florida's public records laws are so important for public accountability.