NEW YORK (AP) — A joint effort of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times exposing treacherous and violent conditions in Florida's state-funded mental hospitals won top honors in the 2016 Associated Press Media Editors Innovation in Journalism Awards.
The work — titled "Insane. Invisible. In danger." — won the Public Service Award for large news organizations and the APME Foundation Sweepstakes Award as the best overall public service work. It also won the Al Neuharth Award for Innovation in Investigative Reporting.
"It stands above the rest in all ways," the judges said. "Most important is that this work exposed shockingly horrible conditions in which both wards and the few workers who cared for them were at great risk for harm or death. And the action it drew was swift and impressive. It was the unanimous judges' choice for the Sweepstakes award for its fantastic public service journalism, powerful storytelling, depth and immediate impact."
The Herald-Tribune also won the International Perspective Award and the Community Engagement Award in the small news organization categories.
It also is one of three finalists for the Innovator of the Year award, an honor that is unique in journalism. Finalists will make presentations at the joint convention of the Associated Press Media Editors and the American Society of News Editors in Philadelphia this September. The winner will then be selected by those attending the convention, joining the other APME winners honored at the Philadelphia gathering.
Other top winners for public service work done in 2015 were The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., and Florida's Pensacola News Journal. The News Journal was a double winner, also taking the award for Innovation in News Reporting in the small news organization category.
The Dallas Morning News was another double winner, taking top honors in the Community Engagement category for large news organizations, and Best Mobile App for its TDMN SportsDay.
The annual APME competition rewards journalism excellence and advances the organization's vision of fostering newsroom leaders, empowering journalists to succeed and cultivating ideas that work.