A Commitment to Excellence: Florida Trend Earns Magazine of the Year Honors

Great reporting, focused editing, stellar photography, highly skilled design, a successful business strategy to ensure stable operations and high-quality printing. Add in a commitment to readers, a seamless leadership transition and an investment in time ahead of every project and you have the makings of a magazine of the year.

Florida Trend "Charging Ahead" Cover, May 2022These were some of the traits grounded in the fabric of Florida Trend, which won the Azbee Awards’ 2023 Magazine of the Year for 12 or more issues. Judged on areas such as quality of writing, reporting and editing; value and usefulness to the reader; editorial organization; interaction with readers; and layout and design, Florida Trend demonstrated a commitment to excellence throughout the three issues submitted for judging. The publication showed a range of subject matter with cover stories on Florida’s doctor deficit, the future of the electric car, and how pay-to-play has impacted college athletes.

Word of the award came as the Florida Trend team was putting together its’ 65th anniversary issue. “The timing of the two events gave us an opportunity to reflect on what a privilege it is to be a part of the magazine’s long tradition of journalistic excellence,” said Vickie Chachere, executive editor of Florida Trend. “The entire Florida Trend team is so proud of this recognition and also grateful and humbled for the recognition of our peers.”

The award was particularly meaningful following the retirement last year of Mark Howard, who had been Florida Trend’s executive editor for 26 years. Chachere, who joined Florida Trend in January 2022, was named to succeed Howard. She previously was at the University of South Florida where she has held numerous communications positions. Prior to joining the university, Chachere spent five years as a supervisory correspondent in Florida for the Associated Press, where she was recognized as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for public service as a member of the AP team that covered the 2000 presidential election re-count. She also spent 14 years at the Tampa Tribune.

Florida Trend "Play to Pay" Cover, June 2022“Change can be hard in any organization, but our team is committed to supporting each other and delivering an excellent magazine for our readers,” she said.

ASBPE: What is the secret to your success?

Chachere: First and foremost, there is a commitment to our readers embedded in everything we do at Florida Trend. Our team consists of veteran journalists who are grounded in time-tested values of journalism. No matter how much media changes, we know that at the core of everything we do is our obligation to our readers, many of whom are decades-long subscribers. We honor their loyalty to Florida Trend by thinking deeply about how we cover a very large and dynamic state; reporting and fact-checking our stories thoroughly; and illustrating and designing our stories creatively but with careful consideration of how we use our readers’ time. We want our readers to finish every issue of Florida Trend feeling as it is time well spent.

ASBPE: How does your leadership team help guide your staff to understand the importance of delivering depth and sophistication in your coverage?

Chachere: Magazine journalism is the ultimate group project, but the beauty of our team is the collective years of experience between us. We are not a large team, but all of us bring deep expertise to the table on various aspects of covering Florida, its economy and the business community. The depth we achieve in stories is because our team invests considerable time digging into an issue to really understand it, and then we’re very dogged about getting to the people who have a real impact on the issue to talk to us. The investment in time upfront shows in the final results.

ASBPE: Tell us about the most challenging story you produced in 2022, and how your team overcame those challenges?

Florida Trend "Doctor Deficit" Cover, April 2022Chachere: The cover story for the April 2022 issue (one of issues included in the award entry) is a perfect example of the kind of difficult stories Florida Trend tackles best — not just through excellent reporting, but beautiful and effective design. Amy Keller’s “Doctor Deficit” package explores how Florida ended up with a severe shortage of doctors as its population is surging and aging at the same time. It turns out the roots of the problem was an erroneous policy decision embedded in a Congressional budget in 1997. There’s a multitude of challenges in delivering a story that’s so important to our readers (considering doctor shortages can have life and death implications), but not having it read like a policy analysis. The package not only explored the roots of the problem, but also solutions. Brilliant design from Art Director Gary Bernloehr guided the reader through a serious, multi-faceted story in a way that helps them absorb the information but not be overwhelmed by it.

ASBPE: What are the elements that separate good magazines from great magazines?

Chachere: Great magazines are a byproduct of their individual elements: Great reporting, focused editing, stellar photography, highly skilled design, a successful business strategy to ensure stable operations, and let’s not forget, high-quality printing. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned after 35 years in journalism, the single element that makes a great media outlet are the values that are embedded in the organization: Do you value your readers and advertisers enough to work to the highest level of your ability every day and does your team value each member enough to bring out the best in each other? I think that’s what shines through in the great magazines.

ASBPE: How important is the work that B2B publications provide for its audiences?

Chachere: The health and sustainability of every community is rooted in its business community being able to generate prosperity and opportunity. B2B outlets who are working hard to serve their audiences play an essential role in building the foundational strength of communities by informing their audiences and inspiring them to contribute to their communities in lasting, meaningful ways. The sharing of knowledge and ideas is a powerful force in moving communities toward a better day.

ASBPE: What advice would you give to other B2B journalists about the importance of the work they do?

Chachere: We live in a very noisy media environment with lots of distractions. It’s very easy in this era to get dazzled by business leaders who make a tremendous amount of money and who consider that the only marker of success — if you scratch beneath the surface, there’s not much else there. B2B journalists have a tremendous amount of influence — maybe more than they realize — in shaping community conversations around the people and initiatives making a lasting difference for others. My advice for B2B journalists is to embrace the importance of the work they do, but also honor the power of storytelling by expending their time on people who are doing something that extends beyond their own interests and are sparking those community conversations that lead to meaningful change.

Rich Luna

Rich Luna is senior director for content at Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI). He previously served in publishing roles at Meeting Professionals International, the Boy Scouts of America national office, and as a reporter, editor, and managing editor at newspapers across the country. Luna received his B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the University of Texas at El Paso. He is an ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) scholar and currently serves on the ASBPE national board of directors and the U.S. Travel Association and Association Latinos communications committees.

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