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May 22, 2017
Public Information Department,
The Florida Bar
850/561-5666; [email protected]

The call for entries is out for The Florida Bar’s 2017 Media Awards competition. Since 1955, the awards have honored top legal reporting. For the first time, the Bar is doing away with hard copy entries and going electronic.

Work submitted for consideration may include 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. Any newspaper, radio station, blog, television station, wire service or online-only publication located in Florida is eligible to enter. The entry deadline is June 15.

Entries must have been published or produced between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016. Content of entries may be current or historical, objective or analytical in nature. Special consideration may be given to entries that demonstrate courage or tenacity on the part of the news medium or the journalists who produced the entry.

Reporters receiving first-place awards also will get $500, and second-place winners will get $250. If multiple reporters are bylined on a winning entry, the cash award will be divided evenly among them. Reporters who choose not to accept the monetary prizes may opt to make a donation to the First Amendment Foundation. All winning reporters and their media outlets will receive plaques.

Media organizations large and small are encouraged to enter. Judging criteria are not based on the greatest amount of resources used, but whether those resources available are used well and to the fullest in the tradition of outstanding journalism.

Awards are presented in four categories:

Any nonopinion-based news material with a printed component, whether presented in print or online
Any opinion-based written material, in a newspaper with a printed component, including blogs, editorials and columns, whether presented on paper or online

Any broadcast story or series that investigates a single issue
Any broadcast story or series that continuously follows a single subject/trial

Any broadcast story or series that investigates a single issue
Any broadcast story or series that continuously follows a single subject/trial

Online-only Publications
Any online story or series, commentary, editorial cartoon or photo focusing on a single issue
Any online story or series that continuously covers a single subject/trial

The awards jury consists of two out-of-state journalists, two Florida lawyers with substantial experience in journalism and/or media law, and one Florida educator of journalism or law. The determination of the awards jury is final and is not reviewed by The Florida Bar. The Florida Bar does not endorse the content of the winning entries.

In 2015, Martin A. Dyckman, who retired after 47 years at the St. Petersburg Times, became the first recipient of The Florida Bar’s Susan Spencer-Wendel Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Legal Journalism. It was presented posthumously in 2016 to longtime Daily Business Review reporter Julie Kay, the recipient of two Florida Bar media awards over the years. The award recognizes a Florida journalist or media outlet for extensive coverage and/or commentary on the law, the delivery of legal services and the justice system. The award recipient will be selected by The Florida Bar’s Media & Communications Law Committee from nomination letters. The award will include a cash prize of $500 and travel reimbursement to attend the awards ceremony.

Spencer-Wendel was a veteran Palm Beach Post courts reporter who died in 2014 after a well-documented fight with ALS. She received a lifetime achievement award from The Florida Bar in 2012 and numerous other media awards throughout her career.

The media awards will be presented by the president of The Florida Bar at the annual Reporters’ Workshop dinner on Oct. 16 in Tallahassee. Winners will be notified in advance.

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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."

[Revised: 05-22-2017]