The award recognizes outstanding accomplishment, service or other contributions to the advancement of free expression or the people’s right to know about their government. The winner could be a journalist, activist, blogger, lawyer, news organization, software developer or whistleblower — or any combination thereof, including teams. We wish to recognize individuals or institutions whose actions deserve public honor and emulation for their advancement of free expression or government transparency. To receive updates about the award, sign up to receive our emails.
The 2021 honorees are: Matt Drange, for his investigative reporting on tech companies’ use of non-disclosure agreements; Voice of San Diego for its series “Year One: COVID-19’s Death Toll;” and journalists Sukey Lewis and Sandhya Dirks for their police transparency reporting featured in the “On Our Watch” podcast by KQED and NPR.
The Brown Institute for Media Innovation is the 2020 FAC Award recipient for its “Documenting COVID-19” project, which created a massive clearinghouse of public records and produced accountability journalism in partnership with 30 newsrooms.
The California Reporting Project is the recipient of the 2019 Free Speech & Open Government Award, given in recognition of the project’s groundbreaking statewide campaign to bring to light records of police misconduct.
The nonprofit newsroom ProPublica received FAC’s 2018 Free Speech & Open Government Award for its extensive use of public records to increase transparency around political appointees at the highest levels of government.
The 2017 Free Speech & Open Government Award went to Dave Maass and Jennifer Lynch of EFF and Peter Bibring of ACLU-SC, for their joint work to bring accountability and transparency to police use of automated license plate readers.
Winners this year are Thomas Peele, an investigative reporter who used public records requests to build a database of weapons lost by or stolen from CA police, and Carolyn Titus of the Ferndale Enterprise, who battled the County Fair Association over disclosure of financial records.
This year’s winners are the Monterey County Weekly and citizen activist Bill Branch. The first honored for upholding the finest traditions of community journalism and the second by demonstrating the effectiveness of citizen activism in holding officials accountable.
Sacramento Bee investigative reporter Charles Piller for investigative reporting, and Chris Murphy and Christina Selder, founders of CARR (Consumer Advocates for Residential Care Facility Reform) for effective use of government data and the internet in advocacy work.