In partnership with the Knight Foundation, the Esserman-Knight Journalism Awards is accepting nominations for outstanding investigative and public service reporting in South Florida. Now in its fourth year, the contest helps to foster a community that cares deeply about local news. 

The Esserman Family Fund for Investigative Journalism honors and strengthens accountability reporting in South Florida by supporting the reporters whose work has the power to change laws and lives.


This initiative, created by Ronald and Charlene Esserman and their family, is a way to herald the importance of a free press and fortify the crucial role that journalism plays in ensuring democratic freedoms. The Essermans believe that amplifying the voices of journalists and their courageous work will keep the community focused on issues of injustice, suppression and corruption and galvanize all of us to stand up for change.


The fund supports awards for South Florida’s best public service reporting and provides the funds to seed more investigative coverage through a year-long fellowship.

Ron and Charlene Esserman
Ron and Charlene Esserman

Remembering Ronald Esserman (Jan. 8, 1927 – July 20, 2020)

Visionary Mind, Optimistic Spirit, Generous Heart

Ronald Esserman, husband, father, beloved employer and pillar in the South Florida community, dedicated his life to the betterment of South Florida. In addition to leading his automotive business, Esserman was an integral part of the formation of Miami Metrozoo, Miami City Ballet and the Performing Arts Center, and more recently, the Esserman Family Fund for Investigative Journalism. In lieu of flowers, his wife Charlene and the family request that any donations be made to the investigative Journalism fund. Learn more about his extraordinary life. 

Meet the 2022 winners and their work, listed below.

Journalistic team: Sarah Blaskey, Ben Conarck, Aaron Leibowitz, Eddie Alvarez, Sohail Al-Jamea, David Newcomb, and Rachel Handley
Journalist: Daniel Rivero

Finding themselves in a moment when the local news model is in peril and the free press often under attack, the Esserman family joined with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support local journalism that holds the powerful accountable and tells stories that make a difference. “We encourage others to join us and the Knight Foundation in this endeavor to sustain a free press by supporting local journalism,” said Charlene Esserman.

About Ron and Charlene Esserman:

After the couple moved to Miami from Chicago in 1968, Ron built a network of businesses in South Florida in the automotive industry, heralded for his focus on quality and integrity. Ron brought humanism to his workplace and invested in the advancement and well-being of his employees. Ron and Charlene also supported many community causes, establishing organizations that contributed to the cultural health and well-being of Miami-Dade County. They helped establish Zoo Miami and the Deering Estate Foundation, and shaped the Miami City Ballet, the Florida Grand Opera and the Arsht Center. Throughout their lives, they have been engaged in the political process and supported candidates and causes that focused on guaranteeing free speech, equality for all, quality education and access to resources to enable everyone to have a chance to build a better life.

The Miami Foundation