Kaye Beach

Tulsa World receives nod for freedom fight

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2010 at 9:37 pm

World receives nod for freedom fight

by: Staff Reports
Sunday, March 14, 2010
3/14/2010 5:41:43 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Tulsa World received an award Saturday from FOI Oklahoma for the newspaper’s nearly decade-long effort to gain access to computerized records withheld by the Department of Public Safety.

The third-annual awards were presented during the Oklahoma Sunshine ’10 Conference: Privacy, Politicians & the Public’s Need to Know. The conference was in conjunction with national Sunshine Week activities, celebrating and promoting the public’s right to know.

The World received the Ben Blackstock Award, given to a non-governmental person or organization.

The World filed suit in 2001 after then-Commissioner Bob Ricks rejected almost an entire open records request for computerized and paper records on the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s use of force, traffic stops and searches, and agency procedures.

The newspaper sought the records to review the agency’s treatment of minorities who were stopped and searched, among other issues.

After court rulings, the World resolved issues with the agency in 2008 and 2009. The DPS recently paid a substantial portion of the legal fees the World incurred.

“We commend the Tulsa World for being a leader in open records and open meetings issues in this state,” said Dick Pryor, president of FOI Oklahoma. Pryor is deputy director and managing editor of OETA, the Oklahoma Network.

“The World has a strong and significant tradition of protecting the public’s right to know.”

Kristy Yager of the city of Oklahoma City won the organization’s Sunshine Award for consistently working to provide useful information to the public. The award is presented to a governmental organization or individual who has shown a commitment to FOI.

Yager, head of the public information department for the city of Oklahoma City, worked with local media in redesigning her department’s Web site to make it easier to find information.

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