Open Government Hall of Fame

Nomination deadline: March 16, 2012

Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame is a joint venture by SPJ and the National Freedom of Information Coalition. It was developed by leaders in both organizations as a way to recognize long-term contributions of individuals to open government in their respective states.

Specifically, induction into the Hall recognizes “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.”

The formal induction will be made at the 2012 FOI Summit in Madison, Wisconsin.


Previous inductees

John R. Finnegan Sr. — 2011, Minnesota

John R. Finnegan Sr., president of the Minnesota Joint Media Committee and longtime Freedom of Information advocate, was inducted into the Open Government Hall of Fame at the FOI Summit in Providence, RI, in May of 2011.

Finnegan is past president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association and of the Newspaper Guild of the Twin Cities, and was chairman emeritus of the Minnesota News Council.

With a colleague, Finnegan drafted the first open meeting law in the State of Minnesota in 1957. He drafted and helped lobby for passage of the state's Data Practices Act in 1974—its first open-records law.

In 2001, Finnegan was inducted into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame by the First Amendment Center. The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) presents an annual leadership award named in his honor.

See more about last year's inductee, John R. Finnegan Sr.

Previous inductees:

2010   Robert J. Freeman  —  New York
2009   Mitchell W. Pearlman  —  Connecticut
2008   Bill F. Chamberlin  —  Florida
2007   Frosty Landon  —  Virginia
2006   Byron M. Baer  —  New Jersey
2005   John Kuglin  —  Montana (1MB PDF)
2004   Herb Strentz  —  Iowa
2003   Michael Donoghue  —  Vermont
2003   Sue Hale  —  Oklahoma
2003   Robert Johnson  —  New Mexico



The State Open Government Hall of Fame is open to anyone who has made a substantial, sustained and lasting contribution to open government or freedom of information within one particular state. Even if the nominee has been active in national efforts or national organizations, the judges will only consider accomplishments at the state level.

Nominees may come from government, the media, the non-profit sector, the legal profession, or any other area of endeavor that involves citizen access to government records, meetings and procedures.

Nominees may be living or dead, active or retired.


Nominations should include the following:

  • Cover letter identifying the nominee and the person or group making the nomination.
  • Adequate support material to demonstrate the worthiness of the nominee.

Please send all nominations material to:

  • Ken Bunting
  • Executive Director, NFOIC
  • Missouri School of Journalism
  • 101E Reynolds Journalism Institute
  • Columbia, MO 65211
  • Phone (573) 882-3075; Email


Judging takes place each year following Sunshine Week. All nominations are evaluated by a Screening/Selector Committee that includes a representative of SPJ, a representative of NFOIC and at least one additional at-large Selector. To ensure the integrity of the process, Screeners/Selectors only become known to each other in the latter stages of judging in any given year.

For more information contact SPJ Headquarters at 317.927.8000, or e-mail us at, or contact Ken Bunting at