Home > SPJ News > SPJ Honors First Amendment and Sunshine Award Winners

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS

SPJ Honors First Amendment and Sunshine Award Winners


Contacts: Sarah A. Shrode, SPJ communications director, 614/233-7588

ADAM’S MARK HOTEL, COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Society of Professional Journalists will honor the winners of the First Amendment Awards and the Sunshine Awards at the 2000 SPJ National Convention on Oct. 28.

The ceremony for the annual awards will take place from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the Woody Hayes Grand Ballrooms of the Adam’s Mark Hotel, 50 N. Third St.

The 2000 First Amendment Award winners are:

CBS Producer Mary Mapes, Texas: For her stand against a district judge’s order to turn over tapes of the interview of CBS news magazine “60 Minutes II” with murder defendant Shawn Allen Berry. Berry is one of three white men charged with the infamous 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Junior of Jasper, Texas. District judge Joe Bob Golden twice cited Mapes for contempt and threatened to put her in jail for refusing to deliver the outtakes.

Charles Levendosky, Wyoming: For creating, in 1995, a new Web site called the First Amendment Cyber-Tribune or FACT. The site is dedicated to providing information about American freedoms of expression and challenges to those freedoms. The FACT site has been singled out many times for its commitment to First Amendment issues. In January, FACT was rated highly by the Encyclopedia Britannica, which noted its quality, accuracy of content, presentation and usability.

The 2000 Sunshine Award winners are:

Jim Reynolds, Montana: For his role as lead litigator in a case ruling that Montana legislative caucuses were public meetings and must be open to the public.

Joe Adams, Florida: For his personal and professional dedication to publishing “The Florida Public Records Handbook,” released at the beginning of this year.

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, Texas: For his crusade, including the introduction of 11 bills to the Texas Legislature, to update the state’s public information laws.

State Sen. Don Betzold, Minnesota: Betzold has stood against new privacy bills and succeeded in shepherding new public record reforms through the state Legislature, including giving Minnesotans the right to request and receive public records in electronic form.

State Del. Clifton A. “Chip” Woodrum and State Sen. William T. Bolling, Virginia: For spearheading a study commission to look at ways to tighten, streamline and clarify Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. After two years of study, Woodrum and Bolling’s efforts led to the creation of a 12-member Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council and established the post of state Freedom of Information ombudsman.

Capri Coffer And Charles Kincaid, Kentucky: For their perseverance and willingness to fight Kentucky State University’s decision to censor a yearbook in 1994 because the “color” wasn’t right.

APBnews.com: For the ongoing efforts of this online news organization to fight, even in the midst of a bankruptcy proceeding, to post judicial financial disclosure statements on its Web site.

Bill Rutherford, Arkansas (posthumous award): For his lifetime career dedicated to securing freedom of information. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock authorized the William K. Rutherford Freedom of Information Scholarship.

Media passes can be obtained at the SPJ registration desk or at the SPJ staff office at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Columbus, Ohio, from Oct. 25-28. Media contact: Sarah A. Shrode, SPJ communications director.

Join SPJ
Join SPJWhy join?