Sun, Star-Banner series 'Fragile Springs' takes top honors in FSNE contest

Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 2:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 2:02 p.m.

"Fragile Springs," a joint project of the Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner newsrooms, won top honors Thursday in the Florida Society of News Editors' annual contest.

The series, published late last year, chronicled the history of North Central Florida's imperiled springs system and spelled out the challenges and opportunities that remain ahead.

The project -- online at -- won first place in FSNE's "Community Leadership" category. The judges further awarded it the Gold Medal for Public Service for Division C, which covers newspapers with circulation of 50,000 or fewer.

"Fragile Springs" also won first place in the Multimedia category.

"The Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun collaborated closely on the ‘Fragile Springs' project, which drew a huge response not just from out-of-state judges but more importantly from our local readers. It is journalism that matters and continues to have an important impact," said Doug Ray, executive editor of both papers.

The Sun won four more first-place honors in FSNE's annual contest: Reporters Cindy Swirko and Maru Opabola won first place in the daily deadline category for coverage of former Mayor Craig Lowe's DUI arrest; Editorial Page Editor Nathan Crabbe won first place in editorials; and photographer Doug Finger won two first-place awards, in the breaking news online slide show category for coverage of a 3-year-old boy who was found dead in an abandoned pool, and in the enterprise online slide show category for coverage of the annual Shop With a Cop event.

Two Sun photographers won second-place awards: Finger, video (breaking news/enterprise), for coverage of the pig on wheels, "Chris P. Bacon"; and Matt Stamey, enterprise online slide show, for coverage of the "Pee Wee gladiators."

The Sun also won two third-place awards: copy editor Rob Ryan, blog/online commentary, for his "Projections" blog; and Finger, feature photography, for his "Science with a flash of magic" photograph.

"I'm proud to see everyone in the newsroom share in these awards, which recognize our reporting, photography, print design and digital presentation with high honors," Ray said.

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