Tampa Bay Times wins 2014 Pulitzer for Hoe Brown exposé



Reporters Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times have taken home the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for their exposé of William "Hoe" Brown, the Tampa Port Authority chairman and Republican fundraiser whose lucrative sideline as a slumlord was essentially subsidized by the county's Homeless Recovery program, which sent clients to live in Brown's squalid properties (and paid him hundreds of thousands in rent) without inspecting property conditions.

"It's shocking. People shouldn't have to live like that," says a code enforcement official about a Brown property in the series' first installment, and he ain't kidding. The evidence amassed by Hobson and LaForgia was genuinely shocking, and led to Brown's resignation from the Port Authority and wholesale changes in Hillsborough's approach to the homeless. Kudos to the reporters, and also a shout-out to photographers Daniel Wallace, Carolina Hidalgo, Eve Edelheit, Chris Zuppa, and Edmund Fountain, whose eye for detail, like that of Hobson and LaForgia, amplified the power of the story. (Favorite juxtaposition, noted in both text and photos: A Hoe Brown for Republican State Committeeman campaign poster being used to cover a broken window in one of his properties, followed by a shot of Brown's own posh $485,000 South Tampa home.)

This is the Times' 10th Pulitzer, and its fourth since 2009; last year Tim Nickens and Dan Ruth won the prize in editorial writing for their series of op-ed pieces speaking out against Pinellas County's anti-fluoridation policy. The Times was the only Florida paper to win a Pulitzer this year, a Times press release points out.

Other 2014 winners: the Washington Post and The Guardian US for public service for their reporting on NSA surveillance; the Boston Globe for breaking news for its reporting on the Boston Marathon bombing; Donna Tartt in fiction for her novel, The Goldfinch; and Annie Baker in drama for her play, The Flick. (Local audiences saw Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation in a production last year at Stageworks.) 

One surprising omission: No award was given this year for feature writing. 

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