A couple of weeks ago, Leonora LaPeter Anton went to Orlando to receive the Paul Hansell Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Her prize was among a very large haul for Tampa Bay Times staffers, but I think it deserves some special attention because of what it says about this paper and this magazine.
Whether she was reporting from the front lines of protests at the Republican National Convention or from the bedroom of a biracial teenager struggling to find her place in the world, Leonora gave her readers the benefit of scrupulously detailed reporting and graceful writing to match. Her Floridian cover story from December ("The Agony of Gretchen M.") was one of the 10 pieces included in her entry.
To have one "best journalist in the state" (as the award is sometimes called) working for this paper would be notable. But Leonora sits within a few feet of four other Hansell winners: Susan Taylor Martin (2007), Lane DeGregory (2009), Michael Kruse (2012) and Jeff Klinkenberg (a two-time winner). And that doesn't account for the Pulitzer finalists (Ben Montgomery, Alex Zayas, Kelley Benham French) and winners (Lane DeGregory, Tim Nickens and Dan Ruth).
It makes me exceedingly proud to edit a magazine that features the best work of these outstanding journalists. Floridian, like the Times itself, is unique in the state for the breadth and depth of its talent. But these awards do more than just establish comparative superiority to other publications. They signify the intrinsic worth of our journalism.
Floridian editor Bill Duryea can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8770.