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Terry Francke, Peter Scheer, the California First Amendment Coalition to receive Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award

Dor Immediate Release:

Georgiana Vines, SDX Foundation Grants & Awards Chair, (865) 577-6612 or gvines@spj.org

Todd J. Gillman, SDX Foundation President, (202) 661-8421 or tgillman@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – Terry Francke, Peter Scheer and the California First Amendment Coalition have been selected to receive the 2006 Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award sponsored by the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

The Committee that selected Francke, Scheer and CFAC felt the two individuals and the organization best exemplified the purpose of the Pulliam First Amendment Award. The award recognizes accomplishments on behalf of the freedoms provided by the First Amendment.

The $10,000 award is given in memory of Pulliam, publisher of the Indianapolis Star and Indianapolis News from 1975 until his death in 1999. He was a staunch believer in the First Amendment.

The award will be presented during the closing banquet at the 2006 SPJ Convention & National Journalism Conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Aug. 26.

During the 14 years that Francke was executive director and general counsel to CFAC, he helped fight for California’s open meeting law for local public agencies and was the key mover of a proposed constitutional amendment that makes public access to records and government meetings a civil right of every Californian. The amendment – known as Prop 59 – was approved by 83 percent of the voters in 2004, reflecting voters’ belief that First Amendment issues are important.

After leaving CFAC, Francke and his daughter Emily has founded Californians Aware, of which he serves as general counsel. CalAware works with state and local public officials and agencies to help them gain a better understanding of how open government laws that affect them. Francke continues to work with members of the General Assembly on open records issues.

As the current director of CFAC, Scheer is credited with maintaining the defense of ‘the people's right to know’ while taking the organization in new directions with high-profile initiatives. This has included an aggressive campaign to make sure the courts and lawmakers interpret the proposition so that government transparency exists. This is very important in an age when there are so many attempts to keep government at all levels under cover and behind closed doors.

This year’s judging committee chairwoman was Georgiana Vines, retired associate editor of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel, a past president of SPJ, and co-chairwoman of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation’s grants and awards committee. Other judges were Russell B. Pulliam, associate editor of The Indianapolis Star; Kelly Hawes, reporter for The Galveston County Daily News and a past president of SPJ; Joel Campbell, co-chairman of SPJ’s Freedom of Information Committee and co-chairman of the Department of Communications, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; and Kate Martin, the 2005 First Amendment Award recipient.

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.


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