The Ledger-Enquirer has won the coveted Freedom of Information award from the Georgia Associated Press for 2012-2013.
The award, given annually to the newspaper doing the most to gain public access to government meetings, public records and court proceedings, was announced on Saturday during a luncheon in Atlanta. The field included the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"This is the one award we strive to win every year," said Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, vice-president and executive editor of the Ledger-Enquirer. "It means we're fighting to hold leaders accountable and get information our community has a right to know."
The Ledger-Enquirer has won the award twice in the past three years. This year's entry hinged on the efforts of sports editor Kevin Price, who with former Auburn football reporter Joel Erickson filed Freedom of Information requests and obtained the salaries of every head and assistant football coach in the SEC, with the exception of Vanderbilt, which is a private university. The result was a news report that was eye-opening to college football fans and education advocates alike.
On Saturday, the Ledger-Enquirer received four other Associated Press awards, including second place for photo illustration to Joe Paull; second place in non-deadline reporting and third place in beat reporting to Jim Mustian; and third place in deadline reporting to Tim Chitwood.
Earlier this year, the Ledger-Enquirer won the W. Trox Bankston Trophy for best local news coverage from the Georgia Press Association, again competing against the state's largest newspapers. Directing the coverage were metro editor Stephanie Pedersen and senior editor Chuck Williams.
The GPA also presented first place awards to Mike Haskey for best sports photograph and to the copy desk, under the direction of copy desk chief Kara Edgerson, for best front page design.
The Ledger-Enquirer also won third place for investigative reporting, special issues and editorial page.