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Two organizations, two individuals honored by SPJ with Sunshine Award



Chad Hosier, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 920-4791, chosier@spj.org
Taylor Carlier, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785, tcarlier@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Guardian US, the Center for Public Integrity, Robert Freeman and Kathryn Foxhall have been awarded the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ board of directors and Freedom of Information Committee honor people or organizations each year for their notable contributions to open government.

The Guardian US
The Guardian US has been responsible as an organization for the uncovering of important national privacy v. security reporting, because of its efforts in exposing the work of NSA via Edward Snowden, a US government intelligence analyst who worked for NSA.

In 2013, The Guardian US revealed important information to a national and global audience about the interworking of NSA in their efforts to preserve national security, which many argued was interfering with individuals’ privacy.

Because of their work, the need for a more transparent government was revealed to the public.

“The stories have prompted a global debate and ignited a national conversation about the need to balance security and privacy in the digital age,” Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US wrote. “They have exposed misleading statements by senior US administration officials – including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. They have led to calls from leading technology companies for ‘aggressive reform’ of surveillance practices that undermine the trust of their users. They have also led to the declassification of thousands of documents by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, including documents showing that the NSA’s searches of a database containing the phone records of nearly all Americans violated privacy protections for three years.”

Robert Freeman
As the current executive director for the NYS committee on Open Government, Robert Freeman was described by Carolyn James, of the SPJ Press Club of Long Island, as being “a tireless advocate for freedom of information and open meetings.”

Many times on his own dollar, Freeman has spent his time educating any who ask for his help in regards to freedom of information laws. He was a creator of New York’s own FOI law, and took the initiative to make sure the language of the law was all encompassing when it concerned the definition of what a “record” was.

“More than any other individual to my knowledge, Bob Freeman represents First Amendment advocacy in New York State,” wrote Mead Loop, adviser for the Ithaca College chapter.

Center for Public Integrity
For 25 years, the Center for Public Integrity has been at the forefront of preserving democracy by investigating and uncovering corruption to better serve the interests of the public.

According to its executive director, William Buzenberg, the organization seeks to answer the question in all its work, “Are government institutions keeping their promises and fulfilling their missions?”

This has been accomplished by the organization through projects they began such as Consider the Source, which examined campaign finance records. Other series uncovered issues like hidden judicial sponsorships, a lack of transparency in judge’s personal finances, secrecy in the U.S.’s Environmental Protection Agency, untouched government documents, policies that affected young people at risk, ticketing discrimination in the Los Angeles school system and banks exploiting the weak, among other stories.

Kathryn Foxhall
Kathryn Foxhall is a longtime freelance reporter in Washington, D.C., with experience covering Congress and federal agencies. She has specialized in health and medical issues, which has led her to grappling with the FDA over information.

For the past half dozen years she has spearheaded the effort to raise awareness about increasing controls by federal public information officers that stymie reporters and control the message. She encouraged SPJ to sponsor surveys on the issue by Carolyn Carlson, a former SPJ president and current professor at Kennesaw State University. She created a blog to highlight the problem, led the effort to hold a press conference at the National Press Club this year and has spoken at numerous journalism gatherings about efforts to make progress.

Most notably, she led the effort with SPJ FOI Chair Linda Petersen to draft a letter to President Obama in July on behalf of SPJ and 37 other journalism organizations. This award goes to her for her dedication and passion for opening the federal government, even when many said it wasn't worth the effort.

The recipients will be recognized at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet at Excellence in Journalism 2014 on Sept. 6.

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, please visit www.spj.org.


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