Veteran Star Tribune reporter wins highest Freedom of Information award from Minnesota SPJ

Please note: full list of 2010 Page One Award winners can be found at the bottom of this post.

Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists presents the 2010 Peter S. Popovich Award to Randy Furst

St. Paul, Minn. (May 21, 2010) – The Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Awards the 2010 Peter S. Popovich Award to Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Randy Furst.

When Randy Furst saw that members of the Metro Gang Strike Force decided to attend a conference in the sunny, vacation paradise of tropical Hawaii, he decided to see how the gathering might be important to Minnesota citizens. The original story he wrote, based on a state Data Practices Act filing, led to another about how the Task Force’s overseers violated the state Open Meeting Law to try to come up with a justification for the Hawaii trip. Randy stayed on the trail with a series of stories to ultimately uncover a corrupt arm of law enforcement that stole from innocent citizens, violated state law by destroying documents subject to an auditor’s investigation, and kept questionable financial accounting of their work.

Furst’s work on the Strike Force stories and throughout his career epitomizes the role of professional journalists who work tirelessly on behalf of the public. “His sense of hearing is extraordinary,” said Star Tribune Minneapolis Team Leader Larry Oakes, who edited Furst’s Strike Force stories. “Tell him ‘no comment,’ and he hears, ‘Ask me a different way.’ Tell him ‘get lost,’ and he hears, ‘You should drop by my house tonight.’ Tell him something’s not public, and he hears, ‘I can’t wait to get a letter from (First Amendment attorney) John Borger.’”

The award, presented since 1979, is named for the late Peter S. Popovich, a champion of open government in the Minnesota House of Representatives, as the chief judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and as the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The award was presented Friday, May 21 at SPJ’s annual Page One awards banquet at the Town & Country Club in St. Paul. The Minnesota chapter also presented awards in more than 50 categories to the state’s top print, broadcast and online journalists for their work in 2009. The full winners of the Page One awards are included with this release.

Conor Shine and Devin Henry, both from the University of Minnesota, received student scholarships awarded annually by Minnesota SPJ.

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the oldest, largest and broadest-based organization of journalists in the U.S., was founded as Sigma Delta Chi in 1909. The Minnesota Chapter was founded in 1956. The chapter membership totals about 160. In 1998, the Minnesota chapter was named the national large chapter of the year.

Full list of 2010 Page One Award Winners (Excel)

Full list of 2010 Page One Award Winners (Word)


Scott Theisen, President, MN Pro Chapter
Phone: 952-465-9921


Art Hughes, board member