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James Madison award winners for sunshine and first amendment work announced by SPJ NorCal chapter

Richard "Rick" Knee, Local 39521 VP-CA, speaks at a recent membership meeting. Photo by Steve Stallone/freelance unit 2014.

Richard “Rick” Knee, Local 39521 VP-CA, speaks at a recent membership meeting. Photo by Steve Stallone/freelance unit 2014.

Freelance journalist Richard Knee will receive a Distinguished Service Award for 12 years of service on San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, an 11-member body that monitors City Hall’s compliance with open-government laws. He has served two decades on the SPJ NorCal FOI Committee and he helped in a successful ballot-measure campaign to strengthen the Sunshine law in 1998-99. Rick will be honored along with other winners of the chapters’James Madison Freedom of Information Awards on Thursday, March 20, in San Francisco.

Local 39521 president Rebecca Rosen Lum had this to say about Rick: “The SPJ has bestowed its James Madison Award upon our Rick Knee, the Guild’s California vice president, freelance unit member and ever a union stalwart as well as a beacon of light in the fight to keep public information public.”

Charles Piller of The Sacramento Bee will be honored with the Journalist Award for breaking the story that anchor bolts on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were corroded and subject to potential failure in an earthquake. His digging led to the revelation that engineers had warned for two years of the danger.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, our first Bay News Rising student, received a James Madison award from the SPJ. Photo by Amanda Rhoades 2013.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, our first Bay News Rising student, received a James Madison award from the SPJ. Photo by Amanda Rhoades 2013.

Also receiving honors is staff writer Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez of the San Francisco Bay Guardian for extensive use of public records, independent research and interviews to produce a detailed account of financial “gifts” given to some city agencies that are used to curry favor out of the limelight. (Joe has been indispensable in our Bay News Rising program. He was a member of the freelance unit until the Bay Guardian snapped him up).

Retired San Francisco Chronicle editor Peter Sussman, known for his tireless pursuit of an end to restrictions on media access to prisoners, his support of the inmate journalists’ rights, and for his many other contributions to journalism, has been named winner of the Norwin S. Yoffie Award for Career Achievement Award by the Society of Professional Journalists Northern California chapter.

Congratulations, all!

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Kat Anderson

Kat Anderson

Pacific Media Workers Guild Administrative Officer/Business Agent, founder of Bay News Rising mentorship program for college journalism students and editor of mediaworkers.org.

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