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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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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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