Unusual Joint Collaboration by Two Florida Newspapers

Three Florida journalists received engraved crystal awards and shared a $10,000 prize as winners of the first Carolyn C. Mattingly Award for Mental Health Reporting.

Cormier, Anton and Braga

Cormier, Anton and Braga

The collaborative investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune exposed harrowing conditions at Florida’s institutions for the mentally ill after $100 million in budget cuts. The five-part project, titled “Insane. Invisible. In Danger,” revealed the dangers to mentally ill patients and workers in the hospitals, where treatment takes a back seat to controlling rampant violence.

The winning team included Leonora LaPeter Anton and Anthony Cormier of the Tampa Bay Times and Michael Braga of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The National Press Foundation produced the new journalism award to honor excellence in mental health reporting in memory of Carolyn C. Mattingly, the Potomac, Maryland, philanthropist and activist. Mattingly’s family established the award in the aftermath of her tragic death in 2014. The award, sponsored by The Luv u Project, recognizes exemplary journalism that illuminates and advances the understanding of mental health issues and treatments for the illness.

The Mattingly family

The Mattingly family

Rich Mattingly presented the awards at a program May 24. He noted that one in four Americans deals with mental health issues, and he said The Luv u Project struggled with how to tell that story. “The idea evolved that if we were going to tell a story … we had to have people who knew how to tell a story,” Mattingly said. That led his family to create the new journalism award.

More than 50 entries were submitted for the first-ever award. NPF judges were Frank Deford, sportswriter, author, commentator and winner of numerous awards, including NPF’s W.M. Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award; Bob Meyers, president emeritus of NPF and a member of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism advisory board; and Amalie Nash, executive editor and vice president of The Des Moines Register and a Pulitzer Prize jury chair.

The NPF judges said: “This investigation represents the best in journalism. It was revealing, thorough, comprehensive and deep. Every element was compelling, from surveillance videos, graphics, data, strong multimedia and top-drawing writing. The project was extraordinarily strong from start to finish.” The judges also noted the unusual collaboration between competing newspapers in Florida.

Honorable mention went to Gisela Telis of Arizona Public Media for a video on the lack of mental health services in rural areas, and the determination of one mother to improve the situation in her rural community after her son committed suicide.

NPF recognizes and encourages excellence in journalism through its awards and training programs. A complete list NPF’s journalism awards is here.