Hiaasen Lifetime Achievement Winner

Carl Hiaasen to receive 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

By Mike Leonard
2010 Conference Chair


Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen of The Miami Herald has been named the recipient of the 2010 Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Hiaasen will receive his award at the annual NSNC conference to be staged this year in Bloomington, Ind., July 8-11.

Hiaasen is a singular figure in contemporary American journalism and popular culture. Many people are most familiar with his screamingly funny, comic-mystery novels. Every one is a page-turner, filled with witty and irreverent dialogue, suspense and an array of truly hateable bad guys who all have a few things in common — they tend to be corrupt politicians, businessmen, polluters and developers.

For 25 years, Hiassen has used his column in the Herald to skewer the real bad guys who threaten the political and physical landscape of his native Florida. They stoke the fire in his journalism and the imagination in his fiction.

“Carl Hiaasen has brought his passion for preserving his home state from the ravages of developers and their political puppets to both his column and his books, with force and wit,” said Samantha Bennett, president of the NSNC. “I’m a huge fan of his novels, whose bizarre events and characters he mostly draws from news stories (you can’t make up weirder stuff than South Florida actually furnishes). Honoring him is a real privilege for NSNC; he’s an epic practitioner of the columnist’s craft — and the novelist’s.”

“Some days it is fun,” Hiaasen told January magazine. “Some days the subject matter is pretty heavy and obviously the political misbehavior that we have is sort of a never ending source of amusement. Ridicule is the only way to treat those kinds of crooks that somehow end up in public office. Ridicule and scorn is all they deserve.

“The columnist has the cat bird’s job at the newspaper because he can just cherry pick the best stories and just take off on them,” he continued. “You have the luxury and also the duty of writing what everyone else is thinking but that can’t be in the news story because it’s not objective. You’re getting paid for your opinion. All most good columnists have to do is connect the dots.”

Hiaasen was born and reared in South Florida. He joined the Herald in 1976 at age 23 and worked as a general assignment reporter, magazine writer and award-winning investigative reporter before starting his column in 1985. The column appears regularly on the Other Views page of the Herald.

Two collections of his newspaper columns, Kick Ass and Paradise Screwed, have been published. He is also the author of a dozen novels, including Basket Case, Sick Puppy, Tourist Season and Strip Tease. The latter was made into a feature film starring Demi Moore and Burt Reynolds. He has written three books for younger readers – the Newberry Award-winning Hoot (which also was a movie), Flush and Scat. (Read a detailed biography of Hiassen on his Web site www.carlhiaasen.com)

Planning for the 2010 NSNC conference is well under way. Most sessions will be held in the Indiana Memorial Union, a 500,000 sq. ft. castle of a student union, which also includes the hotel at which NSNC conferees will stay. The IMU sits in the heart of the Indiana University campus, which was named one of the five most beautiful campuses by Thomas A. Gaines in “The Campus as a Work of Art.”

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