2024 Esserman-Knight Journalism Awards – Knight Foundation

2024 Esserman-Knight Journalism Awards

Congratulations to the 2024 recipients!

Esserman-Knight Journalism Awards animated graphic

The Esserman-Knight Journalism Awards celebrates and encourages outstanding investigative and public service reporting in South Florida. Now in its fifth consecutive year, the awards honor journalists who take risks to expose injustice and demand accountability in order to support a more engaged and informed South Florida community.

The 2024 awards recipients and finalists are stunning examples of journalism that serves the public by holding power to account, shedding light on a pervasive or underreported community problem or breaking new ground on an issue.

Works were judged by the quality of analysis and storytelling, rigor of newsgathering, inclusion of community voices and impact on public understanding or action. Winners receive  $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $1,000 for honorable mention prizes.

Each year, the program also recognizes one individual as the Esserman-Knight Excellence in Journalism Honoree for their enduring commitment to the South Florida community. 

2024 Excellence in Journalism Honoree

Aminda “Mindy” Marqués

Mindy Marqués is a trailblazing  journalist, with a career spanning over three decades. From her early days as an intern at the Miami Herald to becoming the paper’s first Hispanic editor in 2010, Marqués’s dedication to journalistic excellence has been unwavering.

Throughout her tenure as the paper’s president, publisher and executive editor, Marqués has led the Miami Herald to numerous awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes, and has been a driving force behind impactful reporting that has shaped our understanding of the world.

Marqués’s leadership and commitment to truth, integrity and the pursuit of justice have made her an inspiration to all who have had the privilege of working with her. We honor Mindy Marqués for her outstanding contributions to journalism and her lasting legacy in the industry.


Daniel Rivero and Joshua Ceballos for WLRN

This investigative series uncovered a troubling real estate scheme targeting vulnerable Miami-Dade residents under the care of the Guardianship Program of Dade County. This taxpayer-funded nonprofit routinely sold wards’ homes to companies owned by family members of Miami’s City Attorney, who then profited by reselling the properties. Through extensive research, WLRN exposed a network profiting from buying incapacitated individuals’ properties cheaply and selling them for big gains, with ties to powerful public officials.

The series prompted Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to halt funding to the program pending an investigation. It also fueled calls for the termination of Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez, linked to the companies involved. Méndez’s termination, set for a few months from now, follows the dissolution of one of the companies highlighted, Gallego Homes, where she was Vice President. WLRN’s reporting brought attention to a neglected legal process, amplifying the voices of vulnerable individuals and making the issue accessible through multimedia platforms.


Jim DeFede for CBS Miami

“WAREHOUSED: The Life and Death of Tristin Murphy” is a documentary exposing the tragic story of a 37-year-old man with schizophrenia who died by suicide in prison for a minor littering charge. Through a two-year investigation, CBS Miami revealed how Murphy’s mental health needs were overlooked as he navigated through the criminal justice system.

The documentary uncovers a systemic failure to address Murphy’s mental health issues by police, prosecutors, judges, the jailer and prison officials. CBS Miami obtained evidence such as medical records and courtroom audio and video footage illustrating the neglect Murphy faced.

In response, CBS Miami has been advocating for change, pressing state legislators to address the issues raised. Testimony from Murphy’s mother at a Florida State Senate hearing led to pledges of support for new legislation aimed at improving the treatment of mentally ill individuals within the criminal justice system.

To provide support, CBS Miami aired a special segment offering resources for families and individuals dealing with mental health issues to prevent them from becoming entangled in the criminal justice system.


Shakedown CitySarah Blaskey, Joey Flechas, Tess Riski, Jay Weaver and Susan Merriam for the Miami Herald

This sweeping indictment of Miami’s mayor and the government he heads prompted a series of ongoing investigations––involving 150 public records requests and, eventually, the FBI, SEC, IRS, the state attorney and the state ethics commission.

During an investigation into an archaeological dig in Brickell, Alexandra Martinez uncovered that the workers were suffering a number of health issues and operating under unsustainable working conditions. The story not only prompted calls for a labor union within their industry, but also brought attention to Miami’s Indigenous communities who have long faced erasure as well as to the archaeologists who risked their lives to preserve history.

Sacred SchemeBob Norman and Grace Tillyard for the Florida Trident 

This investigation uncovered systemic evidence that showed public funds were being used to proselytize women under the cover of the Pregnancy Support Services Program and led to the introduction of a bill in the State’s legislature––which is still being considered––to add more regulatory safeguards on the funding. 

Warehouses for ChildrenCarol Marbin Miller for the Miami Herald

Carol Marbin Miller represents over a decade of the Herald’s coverage of the State’s practice of placing disabled children with medical complexities in homes designed for seniors, which leads to pervasive neglect. Last year, thanks to her reporting, a federal judge ordered Florida health administrators to end the practice, and though the State unsurprisingly appealed, there is now new hope that this shameful violation of children’s rights will end.


Razing Liberty SquareKatja Esson for PBS 

This documentary, set in one of the oldest segregated public housing projects in the South, right here in Liberty City, weaves together the personal stories of people who are being impacted by new development spurred by rising sea levels.


Deposition Reveals New Details About North Miami Beach Mayor’s Residency – Tony Pipitone and Connie Fossi for NBC Miami

Veterans Quit as Training, Mission for DeSantis’ State Guard Turn Militaristic – Lawrence Mower, Emma Rose Brown and Ana Ceballos for the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau

Condo Wars – Brittany Wallman, David Fleshler and Danica Jefferies for the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Couple Trusted EmeraldBay’s Property Manager. Now She Is Accused of Stealing Their Money – Tony Winton and John Pacenti for the Key Biscayne Independent

Bright Lit Place Podcast – Jenny Staletovich for WLRN

2024 Esserman-Knight Journalism Awards Ceremony

Thursday, May 9, 2024. Photos by Marco Bello.