July 6, 2015

ABQ Journal editor, freelance journalist among Dixon Award honorees

The editor-in-chief of the state’s largest newspaper and an independent journalist are among the recipients of the Dixon First Amendment Awards annually handed out by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

983855_935142729859783_7879884175995472816_nKent Walz, the editor-in-chief of the Albuquerque Journal, will receive the lifetime achievement award from the organization while Peter St. Cyr received the award for journalism.

The other two recipients are Dr. Chad Painter for education and Mark Leech for government. The four winners will be honored at the annual FOG luncheon in October.

Former 60 Minutes investigative producer Walt Bogdanich will speak at the event. Bogdanich worked for ABC News as a producer and as an investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Walz had previously sat on the board of directors for the open government organization and was among the founders of the organization in 1991.

“His unwavering commitment to the organization has continued as a member of the legal panel, willing consultant and champion of the people’s right to know,” FOG president Gregory Williams said in a statement. “It is fitting in FOG’s 25th anniversary year that we honor Kent with this long-overdue award.”

St. Cyr will be honored for his work using public records for stories in the public interest, according to the organization.

Painter will receive the award for his work teaching future journalists at Eastern New Mexico University including on open records. Painter is the faculty advisor for The Chase, the campus newspaper.

Leech works for the City of Albuquerque as the applications services group manager. FOG lauded his work in “proactively releasing and posting databases on the city website” in the news release.

“These individuals recognize that secrecy is inconsistent with democratic ideals and with access to information citizens can hold their public officials accountable,” Williams said.