Capitolbeat Honors Top Statehouse Reporting

By: Joe Strupp Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill., won the top prize this weekend at the Capitolbeat awards, which honor the best in statehouse reporting, according to Capitolbeat, the association of capitol reporters and editors that gives the awards.

The association, which met in Philadelphia for its annual two-day gathering, honored Rushton with its John Aubuchon Freedom of Information Award for ?Request Denied,? a six-story package on public access to government information.

?The stories put a spotlight on state and local agencies for stonewalling public information requests by ignoring state public records laws and included stories about how the Illinois State Police investigate a myriad of crimes, from traffic accidents to deaths, in secret,? Capitolbeat revealed in a press release. ?The series also targeted the governor?s office for ignoring requests for information or using excuses to hide records.?

The award, named in honor of Capitolbeat founding member John Aubuchon, ?recognizes extraordinary examples of persistence by journalists in obtaining access to documents and meetings that are critical for public understanding of state government issues.?

?The competition was fierce, but The State Journal-Register did something that I?ve not seen another newspaper do: It made access to government information a front page story, above the fold, every day for an entire week,? said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida, who judged the entries. ?It?s a fabulous series, focusing on citizens fighting for access to public records, the government?s reaction to open government laws and how the law can be fixed. I can?t think of another media organization that has done the same thing and I can only hope that other papers around the country will use The State Journal-Register as a model.?

Other winners from the weekend can be found at

Capitolbeat is a 250-member organization formed in 1999 to monitor issues related to capitol bureau reporters and editors.


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