Pete Weitzel, former editor of the Miami Herald and founder of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, and the late Anna Politkovskaya of Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, won the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award for their efforts in support of the public's right to know."In addition, I'm especially pleased that we are able to honor Pete Weitzel and Anna Politkovskaya for their ground-breaking achievements," Zremski added. "The cause of press freedom has no greater champion than Pete Weitzel. And Anna Politkovskaya, who never let death threats deter her from her remarkable reporting of the conflict in Chechnya, deserves to be remembered and honored for her courage and commitment to journalism."
Weitzel won a John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award for the work he has done with numerous foundations to promote the freedom of information. Since retiring as managing editor of the Miami Herald in 1995, Weitzel has founded the Florida First Amendment Foundation, the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government (CJOG).
He also was executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence and taught at the University of North Carolina, Duke University and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
"Pete Weitzel is truly one of journalism's most unsung freedom of information heroes," said Debra Gersh Hernandez, chair of the NPC Freedom of the Press Committee. "CJOG's landmark research on federal Freedom of Information Act compliance has helped make the case for the first meaningful FOIA reform on Capitol Hill in decades."
The late Anna Politkovskaya also won an Aubuchon Award for her fearless reporting on the behavior of the Russian military in Chechnya. She was assassinated in her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006. The killing spurred demonstrations in Moscow the next day, and candlelight vigils and protests still occur.
"Anna Politkovskaya paid the ultimate price for her investigation and reporting about abuses Russian forces were inflicting in Chechnya," Hernandez said. "An unyielding critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Anna's work had led to many previous death threats and a suspected poisoning attempt in 2004."
Two more deserving souls I can't imagine....