The elevated toll road and flood insurance rates were two big stories that had the community talking last year. And now they have the state talking.
The Laker news editor Michael Hinman was recognized by the Florida Press Association Friday during its annual conference in Coral Gables, winning first place in local government reporting and general news story.
The Laker competed in the top circulation category in the state, against similar weeklies with circulation of 15,000 or more.
In local government, Hinman took the top prize on a series of stories about the proposed elevated toll road a private company had wanted to build in Pasco County, before those plans were cancelled earlier this year. That included a story looking into private toll roads in general, and their economic viability.
Judges called them a “well-researched series of articles on the proposed elevated toll road. Looked at pitfalls of similar projects, and presented the pros and cons of the road.”
In general news, Hinman was recognized for his story on a town hall meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, of a “critical issue” facing homeowners: rising flood insurance rates.
“Nice use of observation to capture the mood at the meeting, ‘Groans, interruptions, occasional applause,'” judges said about the story. “Concise explanation of the impact of the Reform Act.”
The Florida Press Association is a statewide organization that promotes weekly and daily newspapers. Its annual Better Weekly Newspaper Contest recognizes strong reporting, photography, online work and graphical art work among all its member newspapers in Florida.