The Tampa Bay Times won a prestigious national business reporting award Thursday for its coverage of the Church of Scientology’s growing influence over downtown Clearwater real estate.
Times reporters Tracey McManus and Eli Murray were honored with a Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, one of the highest honors in business journalism.
The project, called Clear Takeover, was recognized in the visual storytelling category. It revealed how the Church of Scientology and companies controlled by its members spent more than $100 million buying vast sections of downtown Clearwater property in a three-year period. It used a combination of mapping and graphics to depict the expansion of the church’s influence over downtown.
A team of Times journalists also contributed to the project, including data reporter Connie Humburg; photojournalists Douglas R. Clifford and Luis Santana; reporter Neil Bedi; and former Times staffers Digital Design Director Eli Zhang, Print Design Director Tara McCarty, researcher Caryn Baird and copy editor Mimi Andelman. It was edited by Deputy Editor/Investigations Adam Playford.
The awards were announced at a virtual ceremony.