Tennessee FOI Champion is 2016 Inductee to the State Open Government Hall of Fame

News Release

September 1, 2016                                                                                         Contact: Lara Dieringer

239.823.1811 • dieringerl@missouri.edu



Tennessee FOI Champion is 2016 Inductee to the

State Open Government Hall of Fame

A former Tennessee Press Association president, director of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and the national Audit Bureau of Circulation,  judge, district attorney, newspaper editor and publisher has been become the 16th inductee into the State Open Government Hall of Fame. Selected by a panel from the National Freedom of Information Coalition and Society of Professional Journalists, Sam D. Kennedy becomes another member of the “Heroes of the Fifty States” for his work to promote open government and transparency. 

For more than half a century, Sam D. Kennedy has been a First Amendment proponent and active FOI advocate of Tennessee state and local government. Throughout his long career, he served the public in many capacities including positions spanning government, law and journalism.

In Maury County, the Middle Tennessee community Sam calls home, he has served as General Sessions Judge, District Attorney General, head of the Tennessee Compensation Commission, member of the Tennessee Board of Education, and as County Executive. He has also served for many years as the editor and publisher of his hometown newspaper, the Columbia Daily Herald. During this time, Sam served as president of the Tennessee Press Association chairing the TPA’s Government Affairs Committee for three decades. 

Sam is credited with leading the charge to have the Tennessee General Assembly pass and adopt in 1974 the Tennessee Sunshine Law. Because of his “insider’s view” of the legal, government and journalism communities, Sam “clearly understood the value of a truly open government, and of the enormous dangers to democracy a lack of transparency represents,” said Gregg Jones, CEO of Jones Media, Inc. of Greenville, TN.

Sam was instrumental in the establishment in 2003 of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government (TCOG), an affiliate state coalition with the NFOIC.  “Today, many Tennesseans who have no idea who Sam D. Kennedy is are benefitting from his ceaseless fight to keep our local and state governments as transparent as possible,” added Jones.

The Open Government Hall of Fame is a joint initiative of the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Society of Professional Journalists. Inductees are recognized for their “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”  Formal induction takes place on October 8th at the 2016 Freedom of Information Summit in Washington, D.C.