Brechner News

Miami Herald wins 30th Annual Brechner Award

Carol Marbin Miller and Executive Associate Dean Spiro Kiousis. Marbin Miller also accepted the award on behalf of her colleague on the project Audra D.S. Burch.

Posted: April 11, 2016

The Miami Herald has been named the winner of the 30th Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for its groundbreaking investigative series titled: “Innocents Lost.” The two award-winning Herald reporters, Carol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch, investigated Florida’s child welfare system by following the lives – and deaths – of children within the system. As part of the three-year-long investigation, the reporters pored over thousands of documents, uncovering a system that was clearly broken, leaving children unprotected and at risk. The Miami Herald was forced to file three public records lawsuits demanding access to many of the documents about the treatment…

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The Los Angeles Times Wins 29th Annual Brechner Award

Sandra F. Chance, Paul Pringle, Rong-Gong Lin II and Diane McFarlin

Posted: April 13, 2015

The Los Angeles Times has been named the winner of the 29th Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for its investigative series. The award-winning series titled: “Lifting a Cloak of Secrecy,” details the fight for access to information about ownership of the Los Angeles Coliseum. UF’s College of Journalism and Communications Dean Diane McFarlin presented the $3,000 prize to the Times’ Ron Li and Paul Pringle at the Florida Free Speech Forum’s annual Buddy Davis award luncheon on April 13, 2015. “The reporters used public records to reveal how Los Angeles city officials were making secret deals to…

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The Ledger (Lakeland) Wins 28th Annual Brechner Award

Sandra Chance, Lenore Devore, Ralph Lowenstein and Lyle McBride.

Posted: April 14, 2014

The Ledger (Lakeland) has been named the winner of the 28th Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for its investigative series. The award-winning series highlights the difficulties reporters and citizens face when they try to exercise their fundamental constitutional right to access government information. “The series exposed blatant violations of the law, and forced a number of local agencies and officials to change their procedures to comply with the law,” Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, said. “The two-year-long investigation uncovered a stunning lack of understanding of the state’s government in…

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The Associated Press Named 27th Annual Brechner Award Winner

AP’s Martha Mendoza (center) with Brechner Center Executive Director Sandra F. Chance and Dean Diane McFarlin.

Posted: April 9, 2013

The Associated Press has been named the winner of the 27th Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for its ground-breaking investigative series, “Access Denied,” which tested the right-to-information laws in the more than 100 counties that have them. “This series highlighted the importance of access to government information in a democracy and the ability of people around the world to hold their governmental officials accountable, expose government corruption, abuse, illegal, and sometimes, criminal activities,” Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, said. UF College of Journalism and Communications Dean Diane McFarlin presented…

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North Carolina’s The News & Observer Named 26th Annual Brechner Award Winner

Dan Kane accepting award from Dean John Wright.

The News & Observer uses investigative reporting to expose public employees protected by North Carolina's secret personnel records

Posted: April 20, 2012

The News & Observer has been named the winner of the 26th Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for exposing how public employees who lied, cheated and stole from the taxpayers of North Carolina benefited from one of the country’s most secretive personnel records laws. The News & Observer’s coverage eventually resulted in significant changes to North Carolina’s law, resulting in more openness and transparancy. “These stories demonstrate the critical role investigative reporting and freedom of information laws play in exposing the misconduct and at times, criminal conduct of public employees,” Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center for…

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Asbury Park Press Named 25th Annual Brechner Award Winner

Newspaper uses public records to expose inflated salaries and loophole in access laws

Posted: March 25, 2011

The Asbury Park Press has been named the winner of the 2010 Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for exposing questionable use of taxpayer dollars in New Jersey and how that state’s property tax system harms the economy.  In addition, the Asbury Park Press raised awareness of a gap in the public records law that allows cities to delegate duties to private vendors, who in turn charge high fees for public information. “The Asbury Park Press’s series demonstrates the indispensible role investigative reporting and open government laws play in exposing potential misuse of taxpayer dollars,” Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center…

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Detroit Free Press Named 24th Annual Brechner Award Winner

John Wright and Paul Anger

Newspaper uses public records law, investigative reporting to expose city corruption.

Posted: March 26, 2010

The Detroit Free Press has been named the winner of the 2009 Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for exposing a pattern of abuse by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The Free Press’ coverage of the text message scandal eventually resulted in the mayor’s resignation and jailing. “These stories demonstrate the critical role investigative reporting and freedom of information laws play in exposing government corruption and misconduct,” Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, said. The series will be recognized with a $3,000 prize, which will be presented to Free Press Publisher and…

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

Posted: March 3, 2009

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…

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Miami Herald Reporters Win the 22nd Annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award

Posted: October 18, 2007

Two reporters from The Miami Herald are the recipients of the 22nd annual Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award for their work on an investigation that uncovered illegal case sealing practices in the Broward court system and beyond. Patrick Danner and Dan Christensen revealed that the Broward courts had improperly removed more than 100 civil cases from the court docket since 2001, and dozens others had been removed in circuit courts around Florida. “Patrick Danner and Dan Christensen remind journalists of the importance of utilizing the right to freedom of information in their reporting,” said Sandra F. Chance, executive…

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Associated Press Writer Named 2006 Brechner Award Winner

John Wright, Paisley Dodds and Sandra Chance

Posted: November 13, 2006

A groundbreaking, detailed series by The Associated Press that examined the treatment and prosecution of detainees at Guantanamo Bay was named the winner of the 2006 Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Award, according to Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center. “Guantanamo Exposed” was written by Associated Press writer Paisley Dodds, who now serves as the bureau chief in London. Dodds has covered Guantanamo Bay since the U.S. opened the detainee camp in 2002. Taking a look back during the camp’s third year in existence, the 2005 series revealed psychological pressures and harsh conditions for…

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The Argus Leader Wins FOI Award

Posted: November 30, 2005

A hard-hitting investigative series by the Argus Leader was named the 2005 winner of the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Award, according to Sandra F. Chance, executive director of the Brechner Center. The series uncovered the secret and illegal sealing of criminal pardons in South Dakota. The newspaper revealed that former governor and U.S. congressman Bill Janklow pardoned convicted murderers, sex offenders, former state officials, his legal counsel and his own son-in-law. Ironically, Janklow was convicted of manslaughter for a traffic accident that killed a motorcyclist in 2003. The series will be recognized at the 20th Annual…

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The Daily Business Review wins FOI Award

Posted: January 31, 2005

A groundbreaking series by the Daily Business Review was named the winner of the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information Award, according to Sandra F. Chance, executive Director of the Brechner Center. The articles, written by federal court reporter Dan Christensen, exposed how federal judges were suppressing civil and criminal cases by wiping them off the public record. Typically, even sealed cases appear on the public docket, but in these instances, judges tried to conceal their existence from the public. The articles were recognized at the 19th Annual Brechner Center for Freedom of Information award celebration on Jan…

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