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On Saturday, May 18, the South Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its annual Sunshine State Awards. New Times won nine awards and two honorable mentions in competition with other weekly newspapers throughout the state, as well as one award in a category open to all print media organizations.
The work of staff writer Kirk Semple garnered top honors in two categories. "Lab Rats," which probed the lure of clinical drug trials and questioned the efficacy of the screening process and the consequences that face often uninformed participants, drew first place in Excellence in Feature Writing; in the same category, Todd Anthony's "Don't Wanna Hold Your Hand" and former staffer Steven Almond's "Tears of a Clown" received second place and honorable mention, respectively. Semple's "After the Brawl," a chronicle of the community's response to the racially charged February 1995 altercation between police and students at Coral Gables High School, was awarded a first in Excellence in Nondeadline Reporting. Also in that category, Steven Almond and Robert Andrew Powell won second place and an honorable mention for their articles "The Canyon" and "So Long, Mila," respectively.
In the Excellence in Business Enterprise Reporting category, Almond's "Carnival of Fraud," which investigated the lucrative practice of fraud that plagues the Medicare and Medicaid programs in South Florida, was recognized with a first-place award. Jim DeFede's "Very Big Bucks" won second place in the same category.
First place in Critical Writing went to film critic Todd Anthony, in recognition of a collection of his work; second place went to resident restaurant connoisseur Jen Karetnick.
Contest rules stipulated that New Times compete in the nondaily division. In Excellence in Foreign Reporting, the single category the paper entered that was open to all media, Elise Ackerman's feature "In Havana, On Drugs," won third-place honors.
Additionally, first place in Excellence in Front Page Design went to former New Times art director Brian Stauffer.