DeGroot: Sentinel Has Case of Pulitzer Envy

Enjoy the following from our favorite contributor John DeGroot, which includes a fact that slipped my mind: Pulitzer winner Debbie Cenziper used to work for the Sentinel. Call her the one that got away.

There was a great gnashing of teeth and renting of garments on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale yesterday.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel had lost another battle in it’s desperate newsroom jihad to win a Pulitzer Prize – yet again. Sad fact, in a tally of Pulitzers won by South Florida’s two largest dailie newspapers we find: The Miami Herald - 19 versus The Sun-Sentinel - zip.

More’s the pity. For if shameless lust determined the outcome of journalism’s most honored prize, the Sun-Sentinel would be a winner – claws down!

Good sports that they are, the Sun-Sentinel reported the Herald’s latest Pulitzer in the fifth graph of a wire story on page 3-B. Unfortunately, South Florida’s most “helpful” paper failed to mention* that Debbie Cenziper – the Herald’s latest Pulitzer winner – was a former Sun-Sentinel staffer. (*An omission no doubt caused by a memory lapse.)

No matter. There’s always next year, as they say in baseball and the Sun-Sentinel Contest Editor’s Office.

Trouble is – and at the risk of being petty -- the Sun-Sentinel’s hard-hitting Help Team crusade to repair Broward street signs and sidewalks is, well, a bit

lacking compared the Herald’s Pulitzer-winning series that exposed wide-spread corruption and fraud in Miami-Dade’s tax-funded housing program for low-come families. Of course, as any real South Florida journalism groupie knows, this is matter of diverse newsroom cultures – or chicken shit versus chicken salad.

But I snidely digress.

Hence, in a more charitable spirit as a former Sun-Sentinel staffer, I feel obligated to suggest an investigative series befitting the newspaper’s culture which is (drum roll):


Why not?

After all, the Herald won its latest Pulitzer with a series about real estate.

Once more, when it comes to covering South real estate, the Sun-Sentinel buries the Herald with its with its in-depth special section every Saturday.

Best of all, the crisis is real – as shown by the following data from the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research:

2000 2006 % change


Florida 247,052 235,516 (4.6%)

Broward 27,876 24,213 (13.1%)

Miami-Dade 29,794 26,903 (9.7%)

Palm Beach 23,166 18,896 (18.4%)

Like what cruel horror has struck the best of all possible worlds here in South Florida?

For clearly, what the above dark data reveal is nothing shot of a mushrooming middle class Apocalypse fraught with soul-searing pain and suffering among the mommy mini-van and daddy SUV set – which the Sun-Sentinel daily strives to serve with its colorful graphics, big pictures, Help Team and bite-sized community news briefs.

So there you are my former Sun-Sentinel news folk. “Florida’s Endangered Realtors©” is a perfect fit for your newsroom culture. And tailor-made for your market.


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