Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Award Winners

The Peter S. Popovich Award is given by the board of the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists annually to the person or organization that exemplifies the fight for First Amendment rights.

The award, MN SPJ’s most prestigious, honors the life of Peter Popovich, a legislator, jurist, and tireless advocate for First Amendment rights.

Popovich served in the state House of Representatives from 1953-1963. One of his legacies as a legislator is Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law. Throughout the rest of his career, Popovich remained an effective and aggressive advocate for openness in government and free speech issues. Popovich is the only person in the state’s history to serve as chief judge of the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

1979   The Minnesota Supreme Court & Chief Justice Robert Sheran

1980   Newell Grant, Publisher Tri-State Daily News, Wahpeton-ND
1981   Rodgers Adams, Star and Tribune Freedom of Information Committee
1982   Jeanette McDougal, Data watch of Minnesota
1983   T.J. Western; WCCO TV and Radio; St. Cloud Times
1984   Mark Baker, Editor, Lake Region Press and Lake Region Echo
1985   John R. Finnegan, St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch
1986   Star and Tribune First Amendment Committee
1987   Duane Rasmussen, Forest Lake Times, ECM Post Review
1988   John Fisher, Annandale Advocate; Debra Flemming, Owatonna People’s Press
1989   The Minnesota Daily and Marshall Tanick, Attorney

1990   Peter S. Popovich, Chief Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court
1991   Patricia Hirl Longstaff
1992   Robert Franklin, FOI Director Minnesota SPJ
1993   Kevin Burke, Chief Judge, Hennepin County
1994   Mark Anfinson, Media Attorney
1995   Jim Pumarlo, Red Wing Republican Eagle
1996   The Minnesota Daily and Michelle Ames, Editor; John Stanoch, District Judge, Hennepin County
1997   Donald R. Casey, St. Cloud Times
1998   Reps. Matt Entenza and Bill Macklin; Sen. Richard Cohen
1999   Lucy Dalglish, FOI Director, Minnesota SPJ

2000   Tim McGuire, Editor, Minneapolis Star Tribune
2001   Randy Lebedoff, Minneapolis Star Tribune
2002   John Borger, Media Attorney
2003   Bill Lawrence and Mark Bartel
2004   Donald S. Gemberling, former Director, Minnesota Department of Administration, Information Analysis and Policy Division
2005   Walter Kuckes, Avon, MN
2006   Rep. Mary Liz Holberg; Sen. Don Betzold
2007   Gary Hill, former KSTP-TV journalist and current Communications Director for the Majority Caucus with the Minnesota Senate
2008   Mary Flister, Open government advocate – Maplewood, MN; Robbie La Fleur, Director – MN Legislative Reference Library
2009   The Echo student newspaper, Faribault High School: Kelly Zwagerman, adviser; Vicky Carillo, Christen Hildebrandt and Ben Jackson, editors

2010   Randy Furst, Star Tribune
2011   Jane E. Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law, School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota
2012   Glenn Howatt & Richard Meryhew, Star Tribune
2013    The Timberjay Newspapers, Marshall Helmberger, Publisher
2014   Joan Gilbertson & Art Hughes, journalists, advocates for cameras in courtrooms
2015 James Eli Shiffer, Star Tribune