The Salt Lake Tribune last week collected one national and one regional award, and for that, each of you can pat yourself on the back.
The Associated Press Media Editors First Amendment Award, presented Thursday afternoon in Denver, and the Ted Natt First Amendment Award, handed out Thursday night in Seattle, recognize distinguished service in the cause of open government. The Tribune won both awards for informing the debate that led to lawmakers' repeal of HB477, a law passed with minimal public input in the Legislature's final days that would have seriously restricted public access to government records.
Our role was threefold.
Tribune reporters, despite the challenge of writing about an issue that profoundly affected them, covered the story from multiple perspectives, striving to be fair and complete so you could form your own opinions and act accordingly.
Led by publisher Dean Singleton, our editorial board, in two rare and strongly worded front-page editorials, called on Gov. Gary Herbert to veto HB477, then admonished him for failing to do so.
And editor Nancy Conway headed a media coalition that lobbied lawmakers to repeal the law, which if it had survived would have eliminated the presumption in Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act that government records should be public. Government agencies and officials would not have had to disclose text messages, instant messages and video chats used to conduct the public's business, and people requesting public records would have been subject to new processing fees.
Your role was even more important.
We informed the debate, but you got HB477 repealed.
Rarely has public outcry about legislation been louder or more determined. Utahns who ascribe to tea party principles joined liberals in shared purpose we all wish could be applied more often to solve the problems of our day.
You acted based on what you learned throughout the debate. That's how journalism is supposed to work. It's why The Tribune garnered national recognition last week.
Three judges were unanimous in selecting The Tribune for the Ted Natt Award, which is named for the former publisher of the Longview, Wash., Daily News and open to AP members in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana.
Judge Edward Miller described our role as "a valuable public service with a rare happy ending," according to a Friday AP story.
In presenting its award, APME cited The Tribune "for devotion to overcoming obstacles in the path of a free flow of information and thus contributing through extraordinary effort to the public's right to know."
We're proud of these awards and you should be, too.
So today we say thank you, and congratulations.
Lisa Carricaburu is assistant managing editor. Contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @lcarricaburu.