James Madison Award 2011 Recipient Announced

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Monday, August 1, 2011: The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas will present the 2011 James Madison Award on August 12, in Austin, Texas, to Evan Smith, the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune.

As an original co-founder and the guiding force behind the Tribune, Smith has made the online nonprofit news site an indispensable and highly regarded source of state government news. A committed believer in transparency and the power of data, Smith has withstood criticism from government sources and has continued to post salary records of government entities and school districts from across the state, providing the public the first one-stop comprehensive source of public employee salaries on a news site.

In less than two years of operation, the Tribune already has received two national Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence. Before launching the Tribune, Smith was the longtime president and editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly. He raised the magazine’s profile during his watch, which resulted in 16 nominations for the National Magazine Awards, earning two National Magazine Awards for General Excellence. He hosted the Emmy Award winning weekly interview program, Texas Monthly Talks, on PBS stations statewide for eight years, and today hosts a new national PBS program, Overheard with Evan Smith.

The State Bar of Texas Gavel Awards also will be presented at the luncheon. The State Bar of Texas Gavel Awards recognizes journalism excellence that helps foster pubic undersanding of our legal and jucicial system.

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport FOIFT State Conference will be held Friday, August 12, 2011, at the Austin Renaissance Hotel in Austin, and will feature panel discussions about what’s private and what’s not, where to find public records on the internet and who won and who lost during the 82nd Legislative Session.

National Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Kenneth Bunting will be the keynote speaker of the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon.

The James Madison Award is given annually to honor those who demonstrate outstanding commitment and service in upholding the principles of the First Amendment. The Gavel Awards recognize journalistic excellence that helps foster public understanding of or legal and judicial system.

Registration is available for the conference on the FOIFT website at www.foift.org.

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The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to enhancing the public’s right to know about their government and other public entities. The organization is supported by tax-deductible donations, as well as grants from foundations and private citizens. Membership information is available at www.foift.org. The Freedom of Information Foundation’s main offices are at 3001 North Lamar, Suite 302 in Austin, Texas 78705.