Take action to ensure quality local reporting in Ocala/Marion County

This photo recently won an award for staff photographer Bruce Ackerman. Members of the 1st New Jersey Light Artillery Battery B fire a 3-inch Ordinance Rifle cannon during Ocali Country Days near the Pioneer Village at the Silver River Museum in Silver Springs State Park on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2022.

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Posted July 26, 2023 | By Jennifer Hunt Murty

Although in-depth local journalism is declining nationwide, it must not decline in Marion County.

Marion County deserves robust award winning journalism that serves only the interests of citizens. The kind of journalism that serves as an extra check and balance to both the government’s power and the type of power that naturally goes to those who have power and resources to wield influence.

Last week, during the 2023 Florida Media Conference, the “Ocala Gazette” was honored to receive recognition from the Florida Press Association (FPA) for that type of reporting. Here are a few highlights:

We spent months scouring transcripts and 10 years worth of records and shade minutes to explain how the city got to that position.

The FPA judges said of this reporting, “This rose to the top of many quality entries. The work done to dig into the closed-door transcripts and pull back the curtain on illegal fee was impressive. Well written stories that delved into what took place and the consequences to the rate payers. Journalism at its finest.”

For all three of these essential subjects, we ask— What other local news outlets delivered this type of in-depth reporting?

Only the “Gazette.” The public needed to know the truth, so we worked hard to gather it for you.

And it was not only our reporting that has been recognized, but also our advocacy on behalf of the public’s right to know.

The FPA judges also bestowed upon the Gazette the Jon A. Roosenraad Award for our efforts to promote open government policies. We submitted multiple articles in defense of the First Amendment. For example, the policy we implemented informs the public every time we encounter resistance to gathering information for the public.

While we are proud of this recognition from the Florida Press Association and we believe whole-heartedly in our mission to support the First Amendment, this type of local reporting can’t operate on its own merits, however well-recognized.  The Gazette’s greatest challenge to continuing to deliver on this type of in-depth reporting is sustaining it financially. We need your support to keep a robust reporting presence- fearless in our fight for the public’s right to know.  If you value these principles as well, here is how you can help.

  • Did you know it takes 500 subscribers to support one reporter? Subscriptions cost only $10 a month for a printed copy and it is an easy way to chip in. Subscribe today at www.ocalagazette.com/subscribe
  • Make a tax-deductible donation. You can earmark a one-time or continuing donation to support journalism in Ocala, through the Florida Press Foundation. www.ocalagazette.com/donate
  • Your business will be seen when you advertise in the Gazette, in print and online.  Learn more about how you can access important demographics in Ocala by email us at marketing@ocalagazette.com.
  • Contact us. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about the Gazette, we are listening. Reach out to me directly via email jennifer@ocalagazette.com.

Every dollar you spend with the Ocala Gazette goes directly to creating service-oriented journalism that helps our community.

Subscribe, donate, or advertise to be part of ensuring quality journalism in Ocala.


Other accolades from the Florida Media Conference (Division B Circulation between 4,000 and 15,000):

Our photojournalist Bruce Ackerman received third place for this spot news photo from Ocali Days of a cannon firing.

and second place for this fun feature photo from Grandpa Joe’s candy store.

Local contributor, Joann Guidry took second place for her feature about a local who conquered the Mongol Derby.

Rosemarie Dowell, took second place in the investigative reporting category for her story about Fort Drane.

The Gazette took second place in education reporting for numerous reports about school capacity as it relates to local development policy.

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The first goal of the Ocala Gazette is to deliver trustworthy local journalism so corruption, misinformation and abuse are not hidden from the public or unchallenged.

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