Klinkenberg, who wrote about Florida culture for nearly four decades for the Tampa Bay Times, won the Florida Humanities Council’s “Lifetime Achievement for Writing Award” in 2018. His newest collection of book essays, Son of Real Florida: Stories from my Life” was published by the University Press in 2018. Previous books, including Alligators in B-Flat, Pilgrim in the Land of Alligator, Seasons of Real Florida and Dispatches from the Land of Flowers, have been best sellers.
Born in 1949, Klinkenberg grew up in Miami and began exploring the Florida Keys and the Everglades as a small boy. He started working at The Miami News when he was 16 and became a journalism graduate of the University of Florida. He’s in the UF Journalism College’s Hall of Fame.
He started working at the South’s largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, in 1977. In 2015, a Klinkenberg story was chosen the best narrative work by the national Society for Features Journalism. In 2013, he won “a “Green Eyeshade Award” for work that was judged the best feature writing in any Southern newspaper. In 2010, Klink and photographer-videographer Maurice Rivenbark won the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for the online presentation of the column “Real Florida.”
He is a two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, highest honor in state journalism, given annually to the writer with the best body of work by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. He has been an adjunct instructor in the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and was the first “Writer in Residence” for the University of South Florida’s Florida Studies Graduate program. Esquire, Outside, Travel and Leisure, and Audubon are among the magazines that have published his work.
In 2018, Florida’s Secretary of State conferred a “Florida Heritage Award” on Klinkenberg, who joined Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Zora Neale Hurston as previous inductees. “Nobody writes about the real Florida with as much insight and affection as Jeff Klinkenberg,’’ says novelist Carl Hiaasen. “His essays – spanning the length and breadth of this intoxicating, infuriating state – are pure gems.”