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The Baltimore Banner wins James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award 2023

May 3, 2024

The Baltimore Banner wins the James S. Keat Freedom of Information award for a breadth of reporting using public records and data. Four 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 former recipient of MDDC’s Distinguished Service Award.

The judges were impressed by The Banner’s wide-ranging portfolio of substantive projects that used public records in reporting. Reporters at The Banner have obtained and used public records in a variety of ways, including suing for records, scraping data from public websites, and using video and photographic records. The work has had impact, leading to the release of more information and even working with public officials to improve public reporting and databases released through open data portals.

From their submission letter, The Banner says “uncovering and telling stories using public records is part of the nonprofit Baltimore Banner’s DNA. It spans all beats and coverage areas, where our journalists over the past year have used documents, emails, data, surveillance photos and camera footage obtained through public records requests to hold powerful people and public agencies accountable, to shed light on what is happening behind the scenes and to give readers a fuller and deeper understanding of important issues they face.”

This is the first time The Baltimore Banner has won the award.

Click here to read The Banner’s nomination letter.


Baltimore Brew

Nominated for their long term fight against the Baltimore City Board of Ethics to gain the release of unredacted reports of the donors to the City Council President Nick Mosby’s 2021 Trust. The Brew sued for the release of the records and followed the story throughout the contest year.

Click here to read the nomination letter.

Capital News Service

Nominated for an extensive project detailing how Maryland school districts do business, students created a searchable database and feature stories focusing on how school districts spend their money.

The News Journal

Nominated for in-depth reporting on police documents and actions in Delaware, as well as the coverage of the ground-breaking reforms that focus on police accountability. Until a pair of bills passed the Delaware General Assembly last summer, police disciplinary and personnel records were required to be hidden from the public, including from criminal defense attorneys. Despite the state’s attempts to stymie the public’s access to information about police dishonestly, use of excessive force, abuse of authority or other misconduct, it’s the dogged pursuit of tips from residents that lead Delaware Online/The News Journal reporters to learn of court filings that exploit the loopholes in Delaware’s FOIA exemptions. But the new laws still leave much work to do to increase accountability.

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