The Sun Sentinel (also known as the South Florida Sun Sentinel, known until 2008 as the Sun-Sentinel, and stylized on its masthead as SunSentinel) is the main daily newspaper of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as surrounding Broward County and southern Palm Beach County. It circulates all throughout the three counties that comprise South Florida. It is the largest-circulation newspaper in the area.
The newspaper was for many years branded as the Sun-Sentinel, with a hyphen, until a redesign and rebranding on August 17, 2008. The new look also removed the space between "Sun" and "Sentinel" in the newspaper's flag, but its name retained the space.
The Sun Sentinel is owned by parent company, Tribune Publishing. This company was acquired by Alden Global Capital, which operates its media properties through Digital First Media, in May 2021.
For many years, the Sun Sentinel targeted Broward County and provided only limited news coverage in Palm Beach County. However, in the late 1990s, it expanded its coverage to all of South Florida, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. In the former area, The Miami Herald is its primary competition, while in the latter area, The Palm Beach Post is the chief competition.
The Sun Sentinel emphasizes local news, through its Community News and Local sections. It has a daily circulation of 163,728 and a Sunday circulation of 228,906.
The paper was awarded its first Pulitzer Prize in 2013, in the category of Public Service Journalism, for its investigative series about off-duty police officers who engage in regular reckless speeding.
In 2019, the paper won another Pulitzer Prize for public service for its coverage of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, a school shooting in which 17 people died. The Pulitzer committee credited the Sun Sentinel "for exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after the deadly shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School."
The newspaper has also been a finalist for a Pulitzer 13 times, including for its 2005 coverage of Hurricane Wilma and an investigation into the Federal Emergency Management Agency's mismanagement of hurricane aid. (The latter investigation was featured in the PBS documentary series Exposé: America's Investigative Reports in an episode entitled "Crisis Mismanagement".) It also produced a significant contribution to information graphics in the form of News Illustrated, a weekly full-page graphic that has received more than 30 international awards. The photography department has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice in the Spot News category. It was a finalist in 1982 for its coverage of a Haitian refugee boat disaster, and again in 1999 for its powerful coverage of Hurricane Mitch in Central America.
The Sun Sentinel website has news video from two South Florida television stations: West Palm Beach's CBS affiliate WPEC and Miami and Fort Lauderdale CW affiliate WSFL-TV; it was a former sister station to the latter before Tribune's publishing and broadcasting interests were split. It also publishes a Spanish-language weekly, El Sentinel, as well as various community publications.
The Sun Sentinel traces its history to the 1910 founding of the Fort Lauderdale Weekly Herald, the first known newspaper in the Fort Lauderdale area, and the Everglades Breeze, a locally printed paper founded in 1911, which promoted itself as "Florida's great Farm, Truck and Fruit Growing paper." In 1925, the Everglades Breeze was renamed the Sentinel. That same year, two Ohio publishers bought both the Sentinel and the Herald, consolidating the newspapers into a daily publication called the Daily News and Evening Sentinel. In 1926, Horace and Tom Stillwell purchased the paper. However, the devastation wrought by the 1926 Miami hurricane caused circulation to drop and, in 1929, Tom Stillwell sold the paper to the Gore Publishing Company, headed by R.H. Gore Sr. By 1945, circulation of the Daily News and Evening Sentinel had climbed to 10,000.
In 1953, Gore Publishing changed the name of the paper to the Fort Lauderdale News and added a Sunday morning edition. In 1960, when the paper had a circulation of 60,000, Gore Publishing purchased the weekly Pompano Beach Sun and expanded it into a six-day morning paper, the Pompano Sun-Sentinel—thus reviving the "Sentinel" name it had discarded seven years earlier. In 1963, the Tribune Company acquired Gore Publishing. In the 1970s, the morning paper changed its name to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. In 1982, the two papers merged their editorial staffs. The two papers then merged into a single morning paper under the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel name. In 2000, after expanding its coverage, the paper changed its name to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
In 2001, the Sun-Sentinel opened a full-time foreign bureau in Havana, Cuba. Shared with the Tribune Co., their Havana newsroom was the only permanent presence of any South Florida newspaper at the time.
In 2002, the Sun-Sentinel began publishing a Spanish weekly newspaper, El Sentinel. The newspaper is distributed free on Saturdays to Hispanic households in Broward and Palm Beach counties and is also available in racks in both counties. It is also available online at Elsentinel.com. In 2004, the paper won the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism for its coverage of health and human services in the state.
On August 17, 2008, the Sun Sentinel unveiled a redesigned layout, with larger graphics, more color, and a new large "S" logo. This is in tune with another Tribune newspaper (Orlando Sentinel), which redesigned its newspaper a few months previously, and created a brand synergy with Tribune sister operation and CW affiliate WSFL-TV (Channel 39), which relocated its operations to the Sun Sentinel offices in 2008 and adopted a logo matching the capital "S" in the new logo.
Since 2011 to present day, the newspaper made significant updates to meld print media with modern media. These advances include: launching the pure-play entertainment website SouthFlorida.com and starting a video channel called SunSentinel Originals. As a result of their media integration, the newspaper was named one of Editor & Publisher's "10 Newspapers That Do it Right".
The Sun Sentinel gives annual awards to area businesses and business leaders, including Top Workplaces for People on the Move, Excalibur Award and others.
In 2014 the newspaper was named one of the "10 Newspapers That Do It Right" by Editor & Publisher magazine.
A 2008 glitch that began with a six-year-old Chicago Tribune article posted on Sun Sentinel's website resulted in finger-pointing regarding "who is to blame over the United Airlines share price crash ... from $12 to $3 before trading was suspended." The posting was on a Sunday, and by Thursday Reuters reported a formal SEC "preliminary investigation," including that a previously known aspect of Google's search engine was involved: the old story was presented as "new" by Google News.
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