Matthew F Smith

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.

Originally from Delaware, he moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director at stations across Alaska, where his reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as the Gulf Coast Live producer in August 2016.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, PA, where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years before pursuing a career in journalism.

Despite being known as the "Sunshine State," Florida lags behind others parts of the country when it comes to generating electricity through solar power. Florida is the third largest state by population in the U.S., but when it comes to harnessing the power of the sun, it's out-shined by states like California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

  When a health care provider wants to build a new hospital, hospice or nursing home in Florida, or even revamp and old one, they first have to apply for a “Certificate of Need" from state regulators.  It's a lengthy and expensive process that can end in rejection: last year, regulators denied 20 of the 47 applications.
 

New estimates through mid-2016 show Florida's surge in syphilis cases continued last year, with cases of infectious syphilis jumping statewide by 36 percent by the middle the middle of year.

Syphilis in Florida grew by a shocking 72.8 percent from 2010 through 2014, and continued to grow by nearly 20 percent the following year. In some parts of South Florida, the rate of infection per 100,000 people is greater than in major cities like Los Angeles. Southwest Florida counties like Lee and Sarasota saw small numbers of the disease triple or quadruple during that six-month period.

Estimates for traffic deaths in Florida climbed to more than 3,200 in 2016, a jump of nearly ten percent from the previous year. Lee County leads Southwest Florida with the deadliest roads in the region with more than 100 deaths in traffic accidents last year, nearly three times the fatalities seen in Collier and Charlotte counties.

South Florida is a hotspot for invasive species, and the exotic plants, reptiles, amphibians, and fish that take root in the subtropical region of Florida can cause harm to the ecology, economy, and even human health.

From invasive Burmese pythons to Argentine black and white tegus, from Clown Knifefish in the water to the climbing, coiling kudzu plants, Florida’s native plants and animals face displacement by nonnative species.

Women are drinking more heavily, and alcohol is behind a growing number of their deaths, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal health data.

The number of white women dying from alcohol-related problems rose 130 percent nationwide since 1999; for Hispanic women, alcohol-related deaths grew by 30 percent in that same time frame. Federal health data shows the prevalence of binge drinking among women up by more than 40 percent since the late 1990s, leading to more ER visits and a growing number of accidents, injuries, and chronic diseases.

Hundreds of cases of human trafficking are reported in Florida every year, and a new report from 2016 shows the number of human trafficking cases in the state doubled in the last year.

The vast majority of trafficked persons in Florida are young women, and sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking in the state, according to a report from Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families.

Seventeen bills filed for the coming March legislative session focus on guns. Some seek to ban the sale of certain guns or firearm components, while others seek to expand where Floridians can carry open or concealed weapons.

The "Eagle Cam" streams video of a Fort Myers bald eagle nest out to the world, and now as two eggs begin to hatch, the live stream is garnering a flurry of new viewers, commenters, and interest from around the globe.

When it comes to the welfare of Florida women, the Sunshine State gets a D+.

A new report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research found more women live in poverty and without access to health insurance than elsewhere in the nation. Florida also fell behind other states when it comes to a woman's access to education and economic opportunity.


Homelessness is on the decline across the United States. In Florida, the homeless population decreased at a record rate in the last year, with more than 2,300 homeless Floridians moving into shelter in 2016. Invisible among these encouraging numbers, however, are the growing number of homeless teenagers in the state.