ORLANDO - Elaine Silvestrini of The Tampa Tribune took first place in Community Leadership among Florida's largest newspapers for her reporting on income tax fraud, now a top priority for federal investigators but little recognized outside Tampa before Silvestrini began her investigations.
The award was announced Friday in Orlando at the annual conference of the Florida Society of News Editors.
Silvestrini, working at times with News Channel 8 reporter Lauren Mayk, was among the first to report on Tampa's role as ground zero in the multibillion dollar national income tax fraud scourge and the growth of identity theft as its precursor.
The Community Leadership award honors work "that enhances public understanding of a significant and complex subject."
Also honored Friday were the Tribune's Michael Sasso, who placed second in Business reporting for stories revealing waste in a state jobs-incentive program, and Jeff Houck, third in feature writing for stories including the challenges facing Florida's cattle ranchers.
Top awards also went to the Tribune's sister publications.
At Hernando Today, competing among newspapers under 50,000 daily circulation, reporter Tony Holt won first place for crime reporting, and artist Don Brown took second place in news graphics and illustrations for "West Nile virus," third place in the category for "Sinkhole numbers" and third place in editorial cartoons for "Amendment 13."
At Centro, competing in the Spanish Journalism category, Myriam Silva-Warren took first in sports writing for a story on a father sacrificing for his sons' BMX bicycle training, and second place in design went to Joel Bustamante for a section on Hispanic Heritage Month.