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'The Oklahoman' and NewsOK.com lauded for open government efforts

FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: July 10, 2009 at 4:39 am •  Published: July 10, 2009
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The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com have received a national award for efforts to inform readers about open government and First Amendment rights.

The Oklahoman won the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. The award will be presented Aug. 29 at the SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Indianapolis.

Other winners are The Detroit Free Press and two reporters from the Sacramento Bee.

Ed Kelley, editor of The Oklahoman, said the award reflects well on the staff.

"To be recognized by our peer group, particularly in this case a national peer group, is really special,” he said. "To be honored with a First Amendment award really goes to the crux of what we as a news organization are all about.”

The Oklahoman won for a series of stories published in 2008 about the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to restrict public access to court records on the Internet and in the courthouse. The stories and information were then used to launch "Your Right to Know,” a NewsOK.com site that includes a collection of public records databases, open government links, news feeds and a blog by Database Editor Paul Monies.

The stories and Web site were instrumental in the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s later decision to rescind the rules.

The Web site has since evolved to become part of The Oklahoman’s "Watchdog” coverage at newsok.com/news/watchdog.