First Amendment Foundation Announces Sunshine Award Winners and Ceremony

For Immediate Release: March 4, 2019

Contact: Katie Bohnett


The First Amendment Foundation’s 2018 Sunshine Awards recognize those who have made significant contributions to furthering open government through service, litigation, and reporting.

The 2018 Sunshine Award Winners are:

  • Craig Waters – Director of the Public Information Office, Florida Supreme Court 2018 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award
  • Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi – Tampa Bay Times, Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting

Learn more about the award winners here.

The nomination for the Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was based on Mr. Waters’ tireless efforts as the public face in the weeks following the 2000 election. Barbara Petersen, President of the First Amendment Foundation, recalls, “Craig was instrumental in bringing the Court into the digital (and social media) age, and along with Chief Justice Kogan — was responsible for televising the Court’s oral arguments.”  The Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was created to recognize the significant contribution made by Pete Weitzel, former managing editor of The Miami Herald, and founder and past president of the First Amendment Foundation, in the area of open government. The Weitzel Award is given annually to someone in Florida who has made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government.

The 2nd Annual 2018 Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting goes to Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times Heartbroken, a series on the investigation into the heart surgery unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. The Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting – named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) who broke countless stories using public records – is awarded to reporters whose work exemplifies the tenacity, drive, and courage that characterizes Lucy Morgan. The award honors a Florida journalist who smartly uses public records to report stories exposing corruption, revealing government conflicts of interest or otherwise serving the public interest.

A special thanks to our First Amendment Foundation Board Trustees who participated in judging this year’s submissions:

  • Mike Deeson, President, Deeson Media LLC
  • Trimmel Gomes, President, Gomes Media Strategies
  • Cindy McCurry-Ross, Executive Editor & VP of Content, The News-Press
  • Caitie Switalski, Broward County General Assignment Reporter, WLRN News
  • Pete Weitzel, Director Emeritus, First Amendment Foundation

The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s annual Sunshine Awards on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at the Florida State University Law School in Tallahassee at 6:00 pm. A special evening event program will follow, and event details can be found below and at

For more information or for sponsorship opportunities, please contact


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