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Baltimore Brew James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award

MDDC Staff

May 13, 2022

The Baltimore Brew wins the James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award for its unswerving commitment to reporting one issue with public records. Two strong nominations were received for this award.

The award is named for Jim Keat, a retired editor and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, who was a long-time advocate for public information access. Keat was inducted into the MDDC Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2013 and is a recipient of MDDC’s Distinguished Service Award.

The nominees were judged by MDDC Press Foundation Board members.

The Baltimore Brew submitted a body of work focusing on the inspector generals of Baltimore City and County. In their nomination letter, they write “Baltimore Brew has been the leading media voice – sometimes the only voice – reporting on efforts within Baltimore City and Baltimore County government to take away the power and independence of the inspectors general.” They went on to describe the effects of their reporting. “Shining a light on efforts to undermine the IGs has meant dogged reporting to obtain documents inappropriately withheld, expose meetings attempted behind closed doors and reveal legislation meant to protect public officials from scrutiny.

As a consequence of our reporting…good government voices in the community rallied. And, perhaps, political leaders were shamed:

  • A bill that would have gutted the powers of the Baltimore County IG was dropped.
  • A closed-door “performance review” of the city’s IG was canceled and efforts to dramatically clip back the powers of her office were thwarted.”

The judges were impressed with how the Baltimore Brew “shows persistence in this body of work and used tremendous numbers of public records.”

“They actually had immediate and important impact.” Because of this coverage, there was a work evaluation meeting and legislation on the issue. It is not often that reporting has real-time impact. “The Brew followed their passion and deeply worked this story.” The judges went on to say that “Jim would have loved this story. It is good old-fashioned, shoe leather reporting.”

Special mention

The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun submitted a large body of work across a variety of areas that always had an element of public interest. From whistleblowers and pandemic spending to gender inequality in state government, The Sun’s staff has demonstrated a firm commitment to public information

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