Dallas Morning News, KXAS, Temple Daily Telegram receive Spirit of FOI Awards

For Immediate Release
Sept. 17, 201

AUSTIN _ Three Texas news organizations have won the Spirit of FOI Award for their investigations that made use of state and federal open records laws and resulted in revealing, impactful stories.

The Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Award, presented Thursday by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, was given to The Dallas Morning News and NBC affiliate KXAS in the Class AA large market category for the joint investigation, “Injured Heroes, Broken Promises.”

The Temple Daily Telegram, a winner of the award last year, received this year’s Class A market for reporting on a public official’s questionable election and police use of force against a teenager.

The Galveston County Daily News received an honorable mention in Class A for its 21-month investigation into pay for executives in the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The Spirit of FOI Award recognizes journalists and news organizations for outstanding efforts that uphold First Amendment principles and promote freedom of information and public access to government. It is named for the FOI Foundation’s former executive director.

The Dallas Morning News and KXAS investigation involved a yearlong Freedom of Information Act fight that obtained records of complaints soldiers made directly to Army leadership about mistreatment at three of the largest Warrior Transition Units.

The reports showed a pattern of complaints across Army posts, established that commanders knew about the complaints for years and revealed a Defense Department inspector general’s report highlighting concerns about the selection and training of WTU leaders.

The Temple Daily Telegram, building on a 2013 project examining open records compliance, explored two separate, important stories  – one about a mayor pro tem’s election and the other involving police conduct. Later, the mayor pro tem was arrested and resigned from office, and two police officers were ousted from their jobs.

The awards were presented at the FOI Foundation of Texas state conference in Austin.