Media Moves

Florida’s Community News Collaborative launches with five-person team

May 1, 2023

Posted by Mariam Ahmed

The following excerpt was sent out from wusfnews:

The Community News Collaborative is ready to begin telling the stories of Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties, and you’ll be able to read, see and hear them at your favorite local media outlets.

Launched in 2022 with funding provided by the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, the CNC operates in conjunction with WUSF Public Media to provide an additional level of community news coverage in the region at a time when many newsroom staffs are shrinking.

The five-member CNC news team, based in Sarasota, will produce journalism on a variety of topics for about a dozen media partners including newspapers, radio and television stations and magazines in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.

Here are the journalists who form the CNC:


Catherine Hicks

Catherine Hicks is a graduate of University of South Florida where she is also finishing a Masters degree in digital journalism. She served as a digital producer for Fox 21 TV in Denver, Colorado, while also running a freelance reporting and copy writing business. She is a native of Pinellas County and served as a graduate teaching assistant at USF. Hicks is particularly interested in issues of mental health and the environment. She can be reached at




Sarah Owens
Sarah Owens

Sarah Owens is a graduate of Milligan University, where she played intercollegiate soccer before joining the staff of the Johnson City Press in Tennessee as a reporter. She has focused on issues of social justice, cultural practices, mental health and criminal justice. Owens was the editor in chief of her campus newspaper and is a native of Alabaster, Alabama. Sarah can be reached at





Jim DeLa

Jim DeLa is a veteran of the news business, serving in a variety of roles over four decades. He’s worked in television, newspapers and radio while reporting, editing and supervising teams of journalists. He was the night metro editor of the Bradenton Herald, worked in university offices of communications and was director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. In his spare time, DeLa is a baseball and softball umpire. He most recently served as a digital producer at WWSB-TV in Sarasota. Jim can be reached at




Profile photo of Eric Garwood

Leading the team is Executive Editor Eric Garwood, who most recently served as managing editor of the Observer Media Group’s news operations in Sarasota-Siesta Key and Longboat Key. Garwood, 60, has been a reporter, page designer, editor and newsroom leader for 39 years at newspapers in Florida and North Carolina. If you have story ideas for the news team, reach out to Eric at

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