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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Editor First Winner of GA Coalition's FOI Award

Veteran Ledger-Enquirer reporter and editor Jim Houston is one of two recipients of the Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Award for 2007, the Georgia First Amendment Foundation announced Tuesday.

Houston, who retired from the newspaper in August, was lauded for his commitment to open records, use of open records laws during his reporting and mentoring of young reporters about the Freedom of Information Act. Robert Rothman, banquet chairman, called recipients Houston and former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers champions of the public's right to know.

"It's the highest honor I could get," Houston said. "I had no concept I would win that award."

Houston's name was launched onto the state stage three years into his career in the 1970s, when he attempted to gain records from Muscogee County Jail. The records were denied, and the newspaper appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which ruled that public records are "all documents, papers and records prepared and maintained in the course of the operation of a public office." The definition is still used today.

The sheriff was ordered to hand over the documents, though the city attorney claimed he had lost them. The newspaper never received the information.

More here.

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