PARKER THOMSON AWARDS HONOR JOURNALISTS AT VIRTUAL CEREMONY
The 2020 Parker Thomson Awards for Outstanding Legal Journalism in Florida were presented in a video during the Virtual 2020 Florida Press Association Awards Presentation. The awards are presented by The Florida Bar’s Media & Communications Law Committee in recognition of outstanding journalism highlighting the system of law and justice as it affects Floridians. Judges for The Parker Thomson Awards are comprised of out of state journalists, media lawyers and media educators.
Awards were presented in three categories, print, television and radio. Award recipients received $500 for first place; second-place honorees received $250. All honorees and their media outlets received plaques. The video can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube .
First Prize: Megan Reeves and Jack Evans, Tampa Bay Times, “Powerless”
In a series of stories, the pair reported about the excessive use of Florida’s mental health law – the Baker Act and how more and more children are being taken from schools across the state and involuntarily committed. “A classic investigative piece.” one contest judge said.
Second Prize: Dan Sullivan, Tampa Bay Times, “Can we forgive’
Dan Sullivan tells the story of David Welch who in 1992, when he was 15 years old, murdered his father and was sentenced to life in prison. Sullivan brought readers along on Welch’s quest for release after serving more than two decades in prison. “This story does a good job of taking the reader inside the Florida justice and penal systems,” one contest judge said.
First Prize: Greg Fox, WESH-TV 2, “The Guardian”
Greg Fox’s reporting on professional “Guardian” Rebecca Fierle unraveled the unscrupulous practices of this individual who was appointed by a Judge to oversee physically or mentally incapacitated people and was ultimately arrested and charged with felony Aggravated Abuse and Neglect. “It’s an excellent piece of enterprise that created change in the area and state.,” a contest judge said.
Second Prize: No award given.
First Prize: Danny Rivero, WLRN News, “Amendment 4”
Danny Rivero steadily covered the evolution, intentions and implementation of Amendment 4 as it unfolded. Rivero’s range and scope of reporting has given audiences a nuanced understanding of many aspects of the law and lawmaking as it pertains to Floridians, through the lens of Amendment 4. “Danny Rivero exposes an important flaw in Florida voting laws.” a contest judge said.
Second Prize: No award given.
The Parker Thomson awards honor news stories, series, features, editorials, blogs, documentaries, columns, special sections — anything that is produced by a news organization and deals with law and lawyers, courts, law enforcement, the delivery of legal services, the effectiveness of the justice system, the work of the organized Bar or related matters. The media competition is in its 65th year. This year’s awards honored works published or produced in 2019. Thomson was a Florida attorney who, from 1968 to 1983, represented numerous prominent clients in First Amendment cases. He argued three cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, including Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo in 1974. He won that case, helping to overturn a state law that required newspapers to allocate equal space to political candidates on the editorial pages. Thomson died in 2017 at the age of 85.
EDITORS: Please note The Florida Bar is not an association and “Association” is not part of our name. Proper reference is “The Florida Bar.” Local bar organizations are properly termed “associations.”