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San Diego State student wins First Amendment award


For Immediate Release

Lauren Rochester, Awards Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 210,
Christine DiGangi, Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000, ext. 205,

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to award Sandy Coronilla with the Robert D.G. Lewis First Amendment Award. The award honors a student SPJ member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the First Amendment through the field of journalism.

Coronilla, a student at San Diego State University, worked to protect the First Amendment through her work at Voice of San Diego, a nonprofit investigative news organization. Coronilla contacted the city’s 16 business districts asking each for its annual report, annual audit and salaries and benefits for each employee. Under the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s open-meetings law, the districts are required to comply with her requests.

Through her months of research, Coronilla found many of the districts in violation of the acts, and soon after her story’s publication, the city worked to improve transparency in the districts.

Taylor Mirfendereski, a student representative to the SPJ board of directors, said the work Coronilla put into the story was exceptional service to the First Amendment.

“The judges were impressed that Sandy's tenacity and commitment to this project resulted in change that is sure to open doors for other journalists and encourage government officials to comply with public record laws,” Mirfendereski said.

Coronilla will be recognized for her service to the First Amendment during the joint SPJ/RTDNA Excellence in Journalism 2012 conference, Sept. 20 to 22, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

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 about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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