Knoxville News-Sentinel Wins the 23nd Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award

The Knoxville News Sentinel was named the 2008 winner of the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Award, according to Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the center.   Scott Barker accepted the $3,000 check on behalf of the newspaper at the Brechner Center’s 23rd annual Freedom of Information award ceremony at the Thomas Center on March 3, 2009.
Barker was the lead reporter on a team covering political intrigue in Knox County over a three-year period that resulted in the court-ordered removal of 12 elected officials, the resignations of four county administrators, the ouster of another elected official for perjury and a criminal probe into county finances that continues to this day.  The series was recognized at the 23rd Annual Brechner Center for Freedom of Information award ceremony at the Thomas Center on March 3, 2009.
 “This series is a wonderful example of how tenacious reporting, coupled with a willingness to aggressively defend the public’s right to know, can positively impact the democratic process,” according to Chance..
 “These stories highlight the importance of exposing corrupt governmental officials and protecting the right of the public to oversee the actions of their government officials and hold them accountable for those actions,” Chance added. “The county’s rotten political system was exposed by the newspaper and concerned citizens got involved and changed their government.”
The annual award was established by the late Joseph L. Brechner, an Orlando broadcaster. Previous award winners include: The Associated Press, The Miami Herald, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, The St. Petersburg Times, The Dallas Morning News, the Sun-Sentinel and the Houston Chronicle.
Located at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, Fla., the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information exists to educate and promote freedom of information laws and policies.  It serves the students of UF, Florida citizens, media lawyers and journalists around the country by providing training sessions, answering queries and conducting scholarly research on First Amendment issues.