2018 Florida Folk Heritage Award
Jeff Klinkenberg was born in Chicago in 1949 and moved to Miami with his parents when he was two. He began his career at The Miami News when he was sixteen, and later graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Florida. In 1977, Klinkenberg joined the Tampa Bay Times where he told the stories of boat builders, cattlemen, alligator trappers, beekeepers, gospel singers, barbecue cooks, cane grinders, earthworm gatherers and many more. He was one of the first writers to bring national attention to the Florida Highwaymen artists, and a number of his subjects went on to win Florida Folk Heritage Awards including Stetson Kennedy, Tom Gaskins, Gary Revell, Glen Simmons, George Soffos and Ruby Williams.
“If Jeff Klinkenberg isn’t careful,’’ the novelist Carl Hiaasen once said, “he might give journalism a good name. He has a rare eye for marvelous detail, and an affectionate ear for those small, wise, bittersweet voices that tell the true story of Florida.’’
In 2015, Klinkenberg won the Society for Features Journalism’s prestigious narrative storytelling category for his profile of Florida hermit Nathan Martin. In 2013, he won the Green Eyeshade Award for a selection judged the best feature writing in any southern newspaper. He is the only two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, the highest honor in Florida journalism, and three of his published collections, Seasons of Real Florida, Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators and Alligators in B-Flat, have been top sellers for the University Press of Florida.