The Palm Beach Post took home nine awards, including a first-place finish for food and dining editor Liz Balmaseda, at the Florida Society of News Editors annual journalism contest, announced Thursday in Naples.
Balmaseda, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who has worked at The Post since 2006, won for commentary for writings that included her take on the death of Fidel Castro and a first-person account of how her portrait came to be on display in the Smithsonian Institution.
Balmaseda, who was born in Cuba, was awarded her first Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1993 with The Miami Herald for her columns on the plight of Cuban and Haitian refugees. Her second was awarded for breaking news reporting in 2001 for her role in covering the story of Elián González.
The Post’s “Heroin: Killer of a Generation” earned second-place finishes for community leadership and investigative reporting. More than a dozen Post staff writers worked on the stories in 2016 that detailed corruption in sober homes and told the stories of the 216 people who died from heroin-related overdoses in Palm Beach County in 2015.
The top investigative reporting prize went to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Panama Papers project from The Miami Herald and the International Consortium of Journalists. It also won FSNE’s Gold Medal for Public Service. The Herald’s yearlong reporting on corruption in Opa-locka won FSNE’s community leadership award.
Photojournalist Thomas Cordy took home two awards. He finished second in features video for his one-minute, 39-second video of Post reporter Kimberly Miller reporting in August 2016 on a feud over the elimination of invasive plants in the Everglades.
His photos, including two from ride-alongs with Boynton Beach police responding to overdose calls, earned second place for breaking news photography.
Hal Habib won second-place in sports writing for a package that included his story after Muhammad Ali’s June 2016 death about the boxer’s early days in Miami.
Leslie Gray Streeter took third in column writing for personal tales of her husband’s sudden death and how it influenced her and their child.
Reporters Wayne Washington, Jennifer Sorentrue and Andrew Marra finished third in beat reporting for their coverage of a proposed $2.7 billion sales-tax hike that would have provided money for private, not-for-profit cultural organizations.
Staff writer Charles Elmore won third place in business reporting on insurance issues, including the personal bankruptcy of a candidate for insurance commissioner.
“These awards reflect our commitment to investigative reporting, insightful commentary and creative storytelling,” Post Editor Nick Moschella said. “It’s extra special to stand tall in a state renowned for excellence in journalism.”