A lifetime of newspaper work culminated in journalism’s biggest accolade for Tim Nickens, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for editorial for his work with the Tampa Bay Times.
Nickens’ first newspaper job was at Jeffersonville High School in Indiana, where he was editor of The Hyphen. He attended IU’s High School Journalism Institute two summers in a row, and the experience cemented his career choice. He enrolled at IU, but took a year off after his first semester to work as a sports reporter for the Jeffersonville Evening News. He returned to IU, where he worked as a reporter, campus editor and editor-in-chief at the Indiana Daily Student.
After graduation, Nickens worked for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne. In 1983, he joined the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times. He covered the Clearwater and St. Petersburg city halls as well as the criminal courts. From 1987 to 1990, he worked in the Tallahassee bureau. He left in 1990 to work for the Miami Herald, returning to the Times in 1995 as an editorial writer.
As political editor, he orchestrated coverage of the 2000 presidential campaigns of Al Gore and George W. Bush. The Times’ stories detailed the battle for Florida, which ended in a U.S. Supreme Court vote that sealed Bush’s victory.
Nickens became metro editor in 2001 and assistant managing editor in 2003. In 2004, he moved back to the editorial page. He became deputy editor of editorials and editor of editorials in 2008. With columnist Daniel Ruth, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for a series of editorials explaining why fluoride is critical to dental health and successfully urging county officials to restore fluoride to the water supply. He also won the 2013 Scripps Howard Foundation’s Walker Stone Award for his editorial writing during 2012.