Best Palm Beach Post Writer (2003)
OK, so Bill Rose is a deputy managing editor at the Post. He´s not working a beat, day in and day out, not out shaking the bushes, not crunching big stuff (that would fill a book if they´d give ya´ the time and space) into bite-size portions. That´s a tough biz. Still, in the course of three days in October, this former editor of the Miami Herald´s literate and legendary Tropic magazine showed how it´s done, how daily journalism can be layered and leavened with tragedy, humanity, humor, and grace. Rose covered the arrival of Hurricane Lili to southern Louisiana, an area he called a ¨wind-swept world of salt water, mosquitoes, and hurricanes¨ inhabited by people who ¨tend to wink at pending calamity and shrug off storm warnings with the practiced air of those who have seen this many times before.¨ That first sentence of his October 3 story was a mouthful, so he threw in a short sentence afterward that gave the whole thing dramatic punch: ¨But this time, they´re running,¨ Rose wrote. And then, when the storm didn´t cause the anticipated Hurricane Andrew-like devastation, Rose burrowed into his own urge to dismiss its effects. By following the inner voice that told him this storm was nothing, Rose discovered the heart of the tale when he found himself moved by ¨one small shred of Lili´s detritus.¨ He described a broken child´s plate inscribed with a boy´s birth date and a mother holding it in her hands while tears made her shoulders shake. The family´s trailer had been blown 25 yards and sat upside down in the mud. Everyone in that family survived Lili, but Rose showed in that moment how tragedy is individual and specific, and he made the reader feel it too. He also showed the wisdom of trusting one´s self and following the thread where it leads. It was some nice work.