Actual malice. Autopsy reports. The Columbine killers’ “basement tapes.” Stapleton Development Corp. records. The governor’s cellphone bills. The meetings and records of a county retirement board. Tom Kelley waged court battles over these issues and many more as an attorney for The Denver Post, other news organizations and the Colorado Press Association, steadfastly and expertly defending the public’s right to know and the journalist’s right to report.
As owner of Tattered Cover, the iconic group of independent bookstores, Joyce Meskis is known and admired by Coloradans across the state for nurturing their love of reading over the past four decades. They may be less familiar with Meskis as a First Amendment champion.
Reporter Teresa Benns has endured verbal attacks and threats of physical violence while documenting and commenting on the workings and failings of government in Saguache County and the small town of Center. She perseveres because it’s her duty, she said, accepting the CFOIC’s Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award.
The CFOIC will present its Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award to reporter Teresa Benns and the Center Post-Dispatch during a luncheon in Monte Vista. Benns and the small weekly newspaper have fought to open secret meetings and obtain withheld records, while reporting on the town’s seemingly constant political battles.
The CFOIC presented William Dean Singleton, chairman of The Denver Post, with the Jean Otto Friend of Freedom Award for his sustained and significant record of fighting for open government in Colorado.
The PIO was recognized for “his devotion and commitment to making the day-to-day operations of the State Courts and the Judicial Branch of government accessible to citizens throughout our state.”