AUSTIN – Texas newswoman Wanda Garner Cash, an educator who has led multiple newspapers and long worked for the public’s right to know, is the recipient of the 2016 James Madison Award presented by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
The award honors those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to upholding the principles of the First Amendment and open government.
It will be presented Sept. 8 at the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon during the foundation’s Bernard and Audre Rapoport State Conference in Austin.
“Wanda Cash has been a leading open government advocate and passionate voice for the First Amendment and freedom of the press in Texas for decades,” said Paul Watler, past president of the FOI Foundation of Texas and chair of the foundation’s James Madison Award committee.
Cash has served as president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, Texas Press Association and Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. Her work included participating in a media coalition that pushed for a Texas reporters’ shield law. She also served as the media member of the Texas Supreme Court’s Judicial Advisory Council’s Committee on Public Access to Court Records.
A community newspaper veteran, Cash was editor and publisher of The Baytown Sun, executive editor of The Brazosport Facts, assistant managing editor of The Galveston County Daily News and editor of the Kerrville Daily Times. Cash and her husband Richard also owned a weekly newspaper, The Ingram News, in rural Central Texas for eight years.
Watler called Cash “a reliable, respected and ready advocate for open records and open meetings.” She has pressed for open government as a speaker and writer and before the Texas Legislature as a leader of news industry associations and the FOI Foundation.
Cash concluded her career by educating a new generation of journalists at the University of Texas Moody College of Communication. She retired in August as associate director of the University of Texas School of Journalism, after 10 years as a clinical professor and the first Fellow to the S. Griffin Singer Professorship. In 2012, she was inducted into the Texas Intercollegiate Press Hall of Fame.
“Wanda is a quintessential Texas woman who brings a zest for life and a fine sense of humor to all she does,” Watler said. “She not only dreams big but makes big things happen.”
Cash served as president of the FOI Foundation during a critical time in its history, he noted. She provided the leadership for the foundation to renew its mission and transition its headquarters from Dallas to Austin in 2009.
“The FOI Foundation gives Texans a voice in how government works. I’m honored by this award and to have been a small part in keeping that voice loud and strong,” Cash said.
Since 1987, the James Madison Award has honored journalists, attorneys, elected officials and vigilant citizens. Last year’s recipient was former state Sen. Don Adams, an ardent open government advocate during his legislative tenure and long afterward.
For information on FOIFT and its state conference go to www.foift.org or call 512-377-1575.