Tracy McManus Wins the 2024 Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government

Tracy McManus Wins the 2024 Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government

Dear Friends of the First Amendment Foundation,

We are delighted to share the exciting news that Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times has been awarded the 2024 Lucy Morgan Award for Open Government Reporting! Tracey’s remarkable dedication to transparency, accountability, and fearless journalism exemplifies the very spirit of this prestigious award.

A 2010 graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, Tracey began her career with The Augusta Chronicle, where she covered K-12 schools, higher education, features, and investigations. Since joining the Tampa Bay Times in 2015, she has focused on Clearwater and Pinellas County, investigating vast real estate purchases in downtown Clearwater by entities tied to the Church of Scientology. Her reporting revealed how companies tied to the church have bought more than 200 parcels using $221 million, almost all in cash, but have kept most of that property vacant around its international spiritual headquarters.

Tracey McManus’s award-winning work includes investigations into Belleair’s substandard drinking water, exposing delays in arresting a Pinellas politician’s son, revealing Scientology’s interference in a Clearwater housing project, and examining human trafficking allegations within Scientology. Her courageous reporting sheds light on critical issues and holds powerful institutions accountable.

In accepting the award, Tracey McManus expressed, “I am so honored to receive this recognition, especially because Lucy Morgan is a hero of mine. Local accountability reporting is crucial for our society, and Lucy embodied that mission.”

Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald, a previous recipient, presented the award. She praised Lucy Morgan’s fearless journalism, highlighting her creation of the “roam around the state and cause trouble” beat at the St. Petersburg Times. Lucy’s relentless pursuit of truth inspired a new era of investigative reporting. Similarly, Tracey McManus tackles challenging subjects like the Church of Scientology, facing threats and legal battles. Her work, like Lucy’s, holds powerful institutions accountable.

Carol concluded, “Lucy Morgan’s legacy lives on through journalists like Tracey McManus, ensuring the public remains informed and institutions are held accountable.” Tracey McManus’s reporting has illuminated critical issues within local governance and public institutions, reaffirming the importance of access to public records to promote transparency.

Bobby Block, First Amendment Foundation Executive Director, echoed, “Lucy Morgan was a pioneer and a national treasure. And her work carries on. Lucy would be proud of Tracy McManus and all our finalists this year. I know I am. The need for good journalism is greater than ever, and as Tracy’s stories have shown, it is still here. Thanks to Tracy and all our finalists for what they do every day.”

Thank you for joining us this past Saturday in celebrating the achievements of our civic heroes!