Robert Leger, SDX Foundation Grants & Awards Chair, (602) 444-6805
Julie Grimes, Associate Director Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, (317) 927-8000
INDIANAPOLIS – Joe Adams of The Florida Times-Union has been selected to receive the 2007 Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award, sponsored by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.
An editorial page writer for the Florida-Times Union, Adams has received countless awards for his efforts to defend freedom of information. He spent 10 years and several thousand hours of research producing and authoring the Florida Public Records Handbook, a publication used by hundreds of Florida journalists and a number of universities as a teaching tool. Additionally, Adams is a contributing writer for various publications, including PressTime Magazine and the Brechner Report, published by the Brechner Center for the Freedom of Information at the University of Florida.
Adams regularly makes FOI presentations to reporters and editors for groups such as The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Tampa Tribune, the Palm Beach Post, the Florida Press Club, Florida SPJ chapters, the Florida Times-Union, the National Writer’s Workshop, the Florida News Librarians Association, the Asian-American Journalists Association, the Poynter Institute and the Freedom Forum.
In addition to educating journalists about openness issues, Adams regularly defends the public’s right to know by challenging government secrecy. He challenged the Jacksonville property appraiser and court clerk for making the mayor’s property and other public records private. He also challenged the Jacksonville Beach police for withholding public documents on a murder probe. In the past year, Adams questioned the Jacksonville city council for holding e-mail meetings out of the Sunshine; and he called upon the Governor to veto a bill exempting the names of concealed weapon holders.
“Freedom of information offers so much power to change lives and governments for the better,” Adams said. “It’s a privilege to do what I can to alert others about why that power matters and to encourage them to embrace and defend free speech and First Amendment freedoms. As for this award, just being nominated was an honor, and receiving it is more than I dared to imagine.”
The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award recognizes a person or organization who has fought to protect and preserve one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The $10,000 award is given in memory of Eugene S. Pulliam, publisher of the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis News from 1975 until his death in 1999. Pulliam was a staunch supporter the First Amendment.
“Few journalists in the country have done more than Joe to protect and defend the First Amendment — in the classroom, in the newsroom, in public forums and in the editorial pages,” wrote Florida Times-Union Editor Patrick A. Yack in his nomination letter. “He is richly deserving of the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award.”
Adams’s efforts will be recognized October 6 during a dinner at the 2007 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.
Founded in 1961, the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) public foundation that is dedicated to ensuring that those who carry on the tradition of a free press are prepared for the challenge. Its goal is to support the educational programs of the Society of Professional Journalists and to serve the professional needs of journalists and students pursuing careers in journalism.
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ and SDX, please visit www.spj.org.