Florida reacts to death of Times journalist Lucy Morgan

Morgan, the Times’ longtime Tallahassee bureau chief who won a Pulitzer Prize, died Wednesday at 82.
Lucy Morgan in 1981.
Lucy Morgan in 1981. [ Times (1981) ]
Published Sept. 21|Updated Sept. 21

In her nearly five decades as a hard-hitting journalist, Lucy Morgan interviewed governors, legislators, sheriffs and prisoners, held local officials to account and mentored generations of reporters.

Morgan, the former longtime Tallahassee bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, died Wednesday at 82.

Florida and Tampa Bay politicians and others responded quickly with memories and tributes. Here are some that they shared.

Alan Levine, member of the Florida Board of Governors and former secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration

“Good journalism that is fair, objective and determined to tell the truth is so necessary and important. I’ve never been afraid of Lucy, because I didn’t have reason to. But when she asked me questions, I knew she already knew the answers,” Levine wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We need more, not fewer, Lucys.”

Steve Schale, longtime Democratic political consultant

Schale wrote a blog post late Wednesday about Lucy Morgan, saying in the post that “Lucy came across like everyone’s wonderful Aunt — albeit an Aunt with a Pulitzer Prize for taking down corrupt politicians.”

Schale wrote about how Morgan laid out “the terms of our relationship: She would ask questions, my job was to answer them — or get answers to them. If I was responsive to her inquiries or desires to talk to certain members, we’d be fine. If I wasn’t — or if I scooped her to another reporter, she’d remember. But one thing I could never do: lie to her. She’d figure it out, and she’d definitely remember.

“I broke that last rule once. At the time, I didn’t think it was a big deal — she had learned of a meeting she thought she had a right to cover (she didn’t), and rather than me telling her to pound sand, I told her there was no meeting. Frankly, I had panicked a bit, not used to being in that situation before.

“But of course, she found out. I never made that mistake twice. Spin all you want, she reminded me — that’s your job — but don’t lie — don’t ever lie — it is the only way we can have the trust required in the flack/journo relationship. It is a lesson that to this day I mention when I get a chance to talk with aspiring hacks in college classes.”

Amy Hollyfield, managing editor of the Dallas Morning News, former Tampa Bay Times senior deputy editor

“I am one of many journalists, many women journalists, blessed by her mentorship and trailblazing,” Hollyfield wrote of Morgan on X, formerly known as Twitter. Hollyfield called Morgan a “titan” of Florida journalism.

Gilbert King, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Devil in the Grove”

King, who interviewed Morgan in 2017 at a First Amendment Foundation event, said on X that Morgan was “fearless” and “broke the mold.”

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

“Lucy was the gold standard as a journalist,” Bush said in a statement shared with the Tampa Bay Times. “She was tough but fair. She was tenacious. I think she scared politicians that were ethically challenged because they knew nothing would get by her. More importantly for me, Lucy was a friend. Prayers for her family.”

Will Weatherford, former speaker of the Florida House

Morgan “could be tough, crafty and also thoughtful,” Weatherford wrote on X. “I appreciated her insights and advice. Like the letter she wrote me via ⁦⁦@tampabaytimes⁩ 10 years ago when a young Pasco kid was about to be Speaker.”

Jennifer Orsi, former Tampa Bay Times managing editor

Every generation of Florida leaders should have a Lucy Morgan keeping them honest.

This story may be updated.