Best Miami Herald Writer Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2005 - Nicholas Spangler
He could win this honor simply for one of the ballsier obituary leads you're likely to see in a daily newspaper: "Deid sah Milk Yelnats." That's "Stanley Klim has died," backward, beginning a farewell to a hilarious bartender who liked to reverse his name. It highlights Spangler's ability to produce stories for the newspaper that (blessedly) do not sound like newspaper stories. Spangler stories do not assume the reader is in a hurry to turn the page. Spangler stories do not waste time pleading to be considered relevant. Instead, Spangler stories tell genuine stories and often suggest he has joined the lineage of Herald writers who strike hard with that critical first sentence. Examples: "God is too wise to make mistakes and too just to do wrong, the minister said, but Shantel Christina Johnson was lying in a pink coffin in front of him when he said it." Another: "Randy got lucky around midnight, in a giant Dumpster behind a sporting goods store near South Miami, with his girlfriend watching." Or even: "The killer has considered the possibility that God hates him. In this last year, the killer's brother choked to death on his own vomit. The killer's first and best-loved dog was run over. The killer's wife left him. 'I love you, but I'm not in love with you,' she said." After a stint covering North Miami Beach, Spangler has for the past two years cranked out hundreds of tales about bowling nights and spring break and waterless urinals for a running column called South Florida, U.S.A., a hell of a territory to cover. It's the sort of gig editors bestow only upon writers capable of understatement, and it is in understatement that Spangler shines most brightly. So let's leave it at: The dude flat writes.