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WUSF Public Media is proud to announce that journalists in the station’s newsroom received 16 awards in the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards, including first place in eight categories for coverage of COVID, best newscasts, phosphate dangers, lost migrant children, the Florida panther comeback and more.

Winning 16 awards stands as a station record, topping last year’s total of 12, and well above prior years. Ten members of the staff were honored during a ceremony in Fort Lauderdale for their work in the calendar year of 2021

“I am immensely proud of the WUSF team for their wonderful coverage of vital issues to our state,” said WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky. “Their body of work is a tremendous testament to the commitment these journalists have to delving into interesting and important stories to keep our residents informed.”

In a COVID-19 non-deadline news reporting category that featured entries from digital, print, television and radio from around the state, WUSF placed third for its Unequal Shots series on inequities in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines. Unequal Shots, which was produced by reporters Stephanie Colombini and Kerry Sheridan and edited by Julio Ochoa, also won first place in the radio health reporting category.

In the general coverage category, Steve Newborn received first place for his coverage on the dangers of Florida’s phosphate mines. Newborn also received a first-place award in the serious reporting category for “What Mosaic Is Doing With Its ‘Gypstack’ To Prevent Another Piney Point Disaster.” Newborn won a second-place award in the category of best use of sound for his story “Once Nearly Extinct, The Florida Panther Is Making A Comeback.”

Jessica Meszaros won first place for her story “Toxic Bus Tour Highlights Energy Inequality” in the environment, science and technology reporting category.

Sheridan took first place in education reporting for her story “A Florida Farmworker Talks About Why He Took His Teen Daughter To Work In Fields” and third place in the investigative reporting category for “Finding the Lost Children of Migrant Farmworkers.” Those pieces were part of Florida Public Media’s Class of COVID-19 series, which received first-place awards in the categories of continuing coverage and news website and a second-place award in the public affairs category.

Colombini also placed third in the continuing coverage category for her COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout stories. WUSF host Lisa Peakes and Assistant News Director Mark Schreiner placed first for best newscast for their entry All Things Considered Newscast, Aug. 6, 2021.

Reporter Cathy Carter received a second-place award in the light feature reporting category for her story, “Preserving Coastal Habitats Can Mitigate The Impacts Of Climate Change.” And The Zest podcast host Dalia Colon and producer Andrew Lucas won third place in the podcast category.

WUSF Public Media is a comprehensive media organization that serves the community and businesses through public broadcasting, digital resources and multi-media production services. Licensed to the University of South Florida, WUSF Public Media has been serving the public interest through programming, educational engagement and community partnerships for 58 years. For more information, visit www.wusf.org

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