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Friday August 1st 2014

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Five top publisher/writer moments over past 15 years

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I have been fortunate to work with some very talented writers, designers and editors over the 15 years: Duwayne Escobedo, Christine Born, Tony Baker, Nick Claeboe, Hilary Moreno, Steve Mraz and Jason Whited are just a few of the names that come to mind. I learned from all of them – as well as my editors with The Daily Beast (Randall Lane), Florida Voices (Rich Bard) and Context Florida (Thomas O’Hara).

I was asked recently what were my most memorable moments:

5. Covering the death of Robert Boggon at the Escambia County Jail. It reconnected me to my civil rights past and set my paper in a new direction on covering the racial disparities in this community.

4. Helping Erin Markes fight to be with her dying son. This Pace mother was blasted on national television by Nancy Grace as the worst mother in America. She was arrested and kept away from her son who was dying from a rare disease that law enforcement in Santa Rosa County failed to see. With the help of my radio show on News Radio 1620, the blog and the newspaper, her case was dropped, just in time for her to be with her son as he died.

3. “Tarnished Turnaround” – a finalist for the Sunshine State Awards for investigative reporting. Superintendent Malcolm Thomas declared that he would make Warrington Middle School the best in the state. He even got an $8 million Race to the Top grant to make it a model school for creating a teacher performance system. Last year it was ranked the 10th worst middle school in the state.

2. The Billings Murder Case put the paper, blog and me on a national stage. I worked with The Daily Beast and beat the national media on a regular basis. The NY Times profiled our coverage.

1. “Fighting for Papa Bear” – the week before the BP tar balls hit our beaches, I visited Eunice, La to meet family members of Blair “Papa Bear” Manuel who died on the Deepwater Horizon rig. The story was picked up by Diane Sawyer and may be one of the best ones I’ve ever worked on.

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