The Freedom of Information Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter presents its 35th Annual James Madison Sunshine and First Amendment Awards.

Contact: FOI Committee Chairs Matt Drange and Aaron Field

The James Madison Awards recognize Northern California organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to advancing freedom of information and/or expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment. SPJ NorCal presents the awards during National Freedom of Information Week near Madison’s birthday, March 16.

We welcome nominations of individuals, such as journalists, lay citizens, public officials, attorneys, educators, librarians and students, as well as news outlets and other organizations that, during 2019, have defended public access to government meetings, public records, court proceedings or otherwise promoted the public’s right to know, publish, and speak freely about issues of public concern.

Awards are not necessarily given in every category; we also accept suggestions for new categories. Typically, categories include:

Professional Journalist
Student Journalist
News Media
Nonprofit Organization
Career Achievement
Public Official
Legal Counsel
Electronic Access

  • Professional Journalist and Student Journalist awards recognize journalists who have fought for access to records, meetings or court proceedings, who have made exceptional use of public records in their reporting or who have promoted education on FOI issues through stories, editorials or other advocacy.
  • The Public Official award is given to a government official who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to keeping public records or meetings public, or otherwise has taken exemplary leadership on FOI or First Amendment issues.
  • The Beverly Kees Educator Award recognizes extraordinary efforts by educators to cultivate a devotion to the values of freedom of information and/or expression. It is named for the journalist, academician, FOI activist and former SPJ NorCal president who died in 2004.
  • The Norwin S. Yoffie Career Achievement Award is named in honor of a founder and stalwart supporter of the chapter’s Freedom of Information Committee, who died in 2000 after many years of distinguished service to SPJ and dedication to sunshine.

Please go here to submit your nomination. There is no contest entry fee. The deadline for nominations is January 3, 2020. 

See the 2019 winners here.

For additional information, please e-mail the SPJ NorCal FOI Committee at spjnorcalfoi@gmail.com.

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