Gary Hill Honored With John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award


The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information honored Gary Hill, long-time SPJ leader and broadcast journalist, with the 2007 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award.

Gary Hill possesses a “principled, thoughtful courage” as he shines the bright light for public access, according to Don Gemberling. The former head of the Minnesota Information Policy and Analysis Division presented Hill with the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award as Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and Senator Tarryl Clark looked on.

Minnesotans struggling to gather public information collected by the state no longer encounter such intrusive questions as “Who wants to know?” or “Why do you want to know?” They have Hill to thank. In the late 1990’s Hill led efforts to conduct a statewide Freedom of Information audit exposing these and other obstacles to open records. Over the past decades Hill has worked at the state and national levels to support a journalists shield law, to expand the use of cameras and recording devices in the courts, and to advocate at every turn for open government. Hill is now director of communications for the Minnesota Senate majority caucus.

“I really do care about these things,” Hill said of efforts to remove barriers to public information. “I intend to continue to work on them, just from a different direction.”

The Freedom of Information Award, established by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MnCOGI) in 1989, is named for John R. Finnegan Sr, retired senior vice president and assistant publisher of the St Paul Pioneer Press. Finnegan is founder and stalwart of the Minnesota Joint Media Committee which continues to support open records, open meetings and other First Amendment-related causes in the Legislature and other public arenas in Minnesota.

Nominated by the Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Gary Hill has been a leader of that organization “for more years than anyone can remember.” Until recently Hill was a journalist with KSTP-TV.