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Florida Matters News Roundtable: 2017's Top Stories


Massive hurricanes, corrupt politicians and the tragic death of a famous manatee – there was a lot of big news in Florida this year. This week on Florida Matters we talk with local journalists about some of 2017’s top local stories.

Our guests are:

  • Steve Newborn: reporter and assistant news director at WUSF Public Media
  • Zac Anderson: political editor at the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Arguably the state’s biggest story of the year was Hurricane Irma. The record-breaking storm led to one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history and its impact is still being felt in many Florida communities. We talk about recovery efforts and lessons learned from the hurricane.
The already-struggling citrus industry was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Irma. We talk about the dire state of the iconic industry and whether help may be coming its way.

We discuss the corruption scandal involving former Northeast Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown. She’s scheduled to report to prison on January 29 after being convicted on fraud-related charges.

Plenty of candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to take over as governor once Rick Scott is termed out of office. We talk about who may be a front-runner in the 2018 race and how the national political climate could impact local elections.

Wounds are still raw in Seminole Heights after the Tampa neighborhood was rattled by a series of murders this fall, though residents are at least able to breathe a sigh of relief now that the suspected killer has been caught.  We talk about how the community has banded together since the shootings.

Another important story this year has been the ongoing debate over what to do about Confederate monuments. Hillsborough County and the cities of Lakeland and Bradenton are just some of the local communities that decided to remove Confederate monuments from public places. We discuss how these decisions were made and how Florida handled the issue compared to other parts of the country.

Finally, we lament the loss of one of the Tampa Bay area’s most beloved residents, 69 year-old Snooty. The manatee drowned in what has been deemed a “preventable accident” at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton. 

Got a news story that we missed? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.

Stephanie Colombini joined WUSF Public Media in December 2016 as Producer of Florida Matters,WUSF’s public affairs show. She’s also a reporter for WUSF’s Health News Florida project.
Robin is Senior Editor at WUSF, spearheading the station's podcasting initiatives and helping to guide the vision for special reporting projects and creative storytelling. She created The Zest, the station's podcast that's all about food, which she continues to host and serve as senior producer.
Steve Newborn is a WUSF senior reporter as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.