The Tribune will receive four awards tonight at the 2008 Arizona Freedom of Information Awards, an annual event organized by the Society of Professional Journalists.
“The awards are given annually to journalists to highlight the importance of access to government through the use of public records and public meetings,” said Mark Scarp, a Tribune columnist and immediate past president for the Valley of the Sun Chapter of SPJ.
A total of 20 awards will be given at the Heard Museum in Phoenix to journalists who exercised their rights of access to public information to produce works of journalistic merit, Scarp said.
Tribune winners included Mark Flatten and Jason Massad, who will receive the First Amendment Award for their investigation into the Cactus Towing Company and the impact that investigation had on local government.
Tribune writer Mike Sakal will also receive the First Amendment Award for his report on the sexual abuse of minors by teachers.
A special Lloyd Clark “How It Made Print” Award will be given to Tribune reporter Ryan Gabrielson for his "Grand Sham" series on the Maricopa County Community College District. The award requires journalists to submit a narrative explaining the obstacles they had to overcome to gather facts for their stories.
Scarp said the award honors “shoe-leather reporting.”
“Often, in the finished version of the story you can’t tell how much actual reporting and hard work goes into the writing of the story,” he said.
The Tribune will also receive a “Special Citation of Merit” for its decision to file a lawsuit against Scottsdale after city officials refused to reveal the city manager’s self-evaluation, which was part of public record, Scarp said.
Others being awarded at the banquet include the West Valley View, which will also receive a Special Citation of Merit for a lawsuit they filed against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.