Coverage and editorials of Surfside tragedy by Miami Herald win prestigious awards

·2 min read
Al Diaz/

A year after the tragedy, the Miami Herald has won more awards for its coverage of the Surfside condominium collapse.

The Society of Professional Journalists presented the Herald awards for 11 articles about Surfside, both in news stories and editorials.

The deadline reporting award went to six Herald news articles, all of which were published within two days of the collapse.

Starting with a comprehensive timeline of the first 24 hours, the Herald not only reported what happened, but also quickly followed up on the missing residents during the search, along with profiles of several missing people, including one profile of model and actress Cassie Stratton who died in the collapse.

Deadline reporting awards were also given for reporting on a major red flag found in a 2018 building report of the Champlain Towers South, as well as an article recounting survivors’ escape from the building.

“Their work is comprehensive reader-friendly,” George Bodarky, SPJ member and community partnership and training editor at WNYC public radio, said during June’s Sigma Delta Chi award ceremony. “They went at the story fast, hard and deep, and did not let up.”

Five editorials also received the editorial writing award, starting with a call for a Miami grand jury to investigate Surfside to come up with long-term solutions, as well as a later piece stating that the grand jury should start by reviewing Champlain’s $15 million bill for building assessment and repairs.

The editorial board also pointed out South Florida’s history of bad construction practices, emphasizing the apartment’s construction in 1981, as well as reforms that could prevent another tragedy and what to know as an owner or buyer when looking at condos.

“These editorial writers did what all journalists should strive to do: they shined a spotlight on what went wrong and on what those in positions of authority can do to ensure such a tragedy never happens again,” Bodarky said.

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