Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Business

Tampa Bay Times wins 16 first place awards in Florida Society of News Editors contest

ORLANDO — Tampa Bay Times reporters won two of the top awards for journalism in Florida, and the staff of the Times collected more first place awards than any other newspaper in the 2018 Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest.

Times staff writer Mark Puente won the Paul Hansell Award for Distinguished Achievement in Florida Journalism for his investigation into the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board. The Hansell Award recognizes overall excellence in reporting and writing by a Florida journalist.

PUENTE: Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board plays fast and loose with disciplinary process

PUENTE: Pinellas licensing board leader Rodney Fischer described as a 'bully' and 'suspicious' in clashes with employees and county officials

PUENTE: Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

PUENTE: Pinellas County construction agency steered work to board member

Times staff writer Charlie Frago won the Waldo Proffitt Award for Environmental Reporting, administered by the University of South Florida, for his coverage of the city of St. Petersburg's sewage crisis.

FRAGO: St. Pete sewage crisis ends with no charges, $326 million bill

FRAGO: Rick Kriseman's administration lashed in St. Pete sewage report

FRAGO: Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage

"We are gratified to see the excellent accountability journalism of these two talented reporters recognized on a statewide level," said Times managing editor Jennifer Orsi, who also served as this year's president of FSNE, an umbrella group of newspaper editors working to advance the cause of good journalism in Florida.

Those awards were announced Thursday in Orlando, along with other FSNE contest winners.

The Times took home 16 first place awards, and several second and third place awards for work in 2017.

First place winners were the Times staff for breaking news coverage of Hurricane Irma; Leonora LaPeter Anton, features and enterprise writing; Ben Montgomery, Neil Bedi, Connie Humburg and other Times staff for their community leadership in reporting 'Why Cops Shoot'; Howard Altman for his beat reporting on veterans affairs; Marc Topkin for sports reporting on the Tampa Bay Rays; Susan Taylor Martin for business reporting on real estate; John Romano, columns; Tim Nickens, editorials; Cameron Cottrill and Brittany Volk, feature page design; Loren Elliott and Ron Borresen, sports page design; Eve Edelheit, feature photography; Elliott, photo story; and Times staff for multimedia, news interactive and page one design.

Other award winners included:

Second place: Lane DeGregory, features and enterprise writing; Bob Putnam, sports; Sue Carlton, columns; Volk and Chris Whetzel, feature page design; Becca Guajardo; Times staff, photo story; Edelheit, features video; Times staff, multimedia. Third place: Christopher Spata, features and enterprise writing; Dan Sullivan, beat reporting; Elliott and Sean Kristoff-Jones, sports page design; Elliott, sports photography; and Times staff for news interactive.

Additionally, CENTRO Tampa, the Times-owned Spanish language newspaper, also collected awards in the contest, including a first place in features and enterprise writing for Myriam Silva-Warren and Carolina Salazar, and a second place for Juan Carlos Chávez.