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The Portland Tribune, NY1 News and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting honored for contributions to open government


Abbi Martzall, SPJ Awards Coordinator, (317) 920-4791, amartzall@spj.org
Anna Gutierrez, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 920-4785, agutierrez@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Portland Tribune, NY1 News and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting 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.

Nick Budnick, The Portland Tribune
Nick Budnick is one of the top investigative reporters in Oregon, and has helped to crack open doors at all government levels, including the $300 million Cover Oregon health insurance website boondoggle.

In addition to working full time as a reporter and serving as a mentor to many on issues related to government transparency, Budnick has coordinated many conversations about supporting transparency bills in Oregon as a member of the Attorney General’s Public Records Task Force – such as the landmark bill H.B. 3399 which would require government contractors to create public databases.

“No matter the result of these legislative efforts, which will be decided in coming months, his active support will have lasting repercussions on Oregon public records law,” said Shasta Kearns Moore, SPJ Oregon Sunshine Chair.

Grace Rauh, NY1 News
Grace Rauh is an investigative reporter for NY1 News, a 24-hour news station in New York City. She’s been covering City Hall for nearly 10 years, and her reporting is forcing City Hall to be more transparent.

Her two-years’ worth of reporting uncovered Mayor de Blasio’s conflicts with outside private consultants – “Agents of the City” – who have access to the mayor and his top aides. Rauh sued the mayor for emails he exchanged with outside consultant Johnathan Rosen. The case, Rauh v. De Blasio, led the city to release more than 1,500 pages of emails that had previously refused to turn over. In March, a New York state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of Rauh and NY1, stating that emails between City Hall and a private consultant should be made public.

In addition, the state ethics commission expanded its definition of lobbying to include public relations firms and now requires them to register as lobbyists thanks to her impressive work.

Miranda Spivack, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented over-classification of government secrets led states, counties and cities across the country to be less than transparent. In response, Miranda Spivack set out to illuminate how the public is put at risk, in large and small ways, when local governments deny critical information to the public.

With about 20 years at The Washington Post as an editor and reporter – who focused on state and local government accountability – under her belt, she exposed how details of emergency plans can be hidden in the name of national security and how government contracts have become one of the least transparent systems that governments maintain. She even revealed how privatization of public information has led to delays and costly expenses to uncover data which should be affordable and easy to access.

The project – Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – resulted in a five-part series and impact-driven interactive database. Stories ran on CIR’s website, revealnews.org, in the Journal Sentinel and on the front page of the national edition of USA Today.

“We are extremely proud that Spivack’s investigation helped enrich the vital national conversation about this subject,” said Amy Pyle, Editor in Chief for The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The recipients will be recognized at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet at Excellence in Journalism 2017 in Anaheim, California, Sept. 7-9.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.


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