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Top 10 Florida Stories of 2012: Strippers, Bears and Republicans


Charlie and strippers and bears, oh my!

We had record-breaking traffic this year on WUSFnews.org, and we can thank Charlie Crist, RNC escorts and strippers, and wandering bears.

Here are the top ten stories on WUSFnews.org this year:

10. Robocall Tells Florida Voters Election Day Is Tomorrow


On Election Day, about 12,500 voters in Florida's Pinellas County received a robocall from the county election supervisor's office...telling them they could drop off their absentee ballots TOMORROW.

They couldn’t. It was a mistake and a black eye for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark had an embarrassing robocall incident.

9. As Polls Show Romney Trailing In Florida, Other Swing States, Obama Edges Towards 270 Goal

After all the drama, the Presidential election turned out much like polls predicted all year long – a strong win for President Obama.

8. Bobcat on USF Campus Caught Eating Duck; Bear Wanders Through USF, Captured at Busch Gardens

Any top ten list in Florida is not complete with a “Strange Animal Story.” These two hit close to home for us…literally.

7. High-End Escorts Expect Big Business During RNC; RNC Sarah Palin Stripper Talks Politics

The Republican National Convention comes to Tampa Bay, and what did internet surfers focus upon? Our cultural amenities? Our business climate?

Screen shot 2012-08-27 at 4.39.28 PM.png
A Sarah Palin-lookalike stripper expounds on politics at a press conference.

Well, kind of.

Our stories about a high-end escort getting ready for the RNC, and a Sarah Palin-lookalike stripper speaking out during the convention, were second to only one other story from all our RNC coverage.

6. Postal Workers Rally for Supervisor Who Says Suspicious Spill Ruining His Health

Jeff Lilly says a suspicious leaking package made him so sick, he can no longer work. His co-workers back up his story.

But the U.S. Postal Service denied the leaking package existed.

WUSF and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story about Jeff Lilly, which led to an OSHA investigation.

Credit J.J. Barrow
Former postal supervisor Jeff Lilly says handling a suspicious package made him sick.

5. Two RNC Attendees Ejected After Throwing Nuts at Black Camerawoman

According to CNN, two convention-goers were tossed from the event Tuesday after they threw peanuts at a black camera operator from CNN, telling her, "This is how we feed animals.''

4. Who’s Winning the Early Vote in Florida

In the weekend before the election, early vote returns showed the Obama campaign doing a better job than Romney…but not as good as their 2008 performance.

The final election results had Obama winning Florida again…but by only one percent this time.

3. Florida’s Proposed Constitutional Amendments, Explained

Ten proposed constitutional amendments made this year’s ballot particularly long…and complicated.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and public media in Florida worked together to explain the amendments, online and on the air. It was an important resource for tens of thousands of voters, and our third most-popular story.


2. Why Charlie Crist Became a Democrat

The former Republican governor-turned-independent finished his transformation to the Democratic party this year.

Crist says he didn’t leave the Republican party…it left him. Others saw him positioning himself to run against Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

1. NPR Airs More Republicans About Fiscal Cliff Debate

It’s one of the biggest debates about our coverage – do we air more Republicans or Democrats?

When it comes to the fiscal cliff, the NPR Ombudsman did the math, and the answer was, Republicans.

Check out the comment section and facebook.com/WUSF for the ensuring debate. Either NPR is biased toward the GOP on this one…or maybe Republicans are more newsworthy here, because they’re the side with the most internal debate on the fiscal cliff.

Scott Finn is a former news director at WUSF Public Media, which provides in-depth reporting for Tampa Bay and all of Florida.
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