Republican Eagle wins several awardsThe Red Wing Republican Eagle received a Freedom of Information award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association during the annual convention Jan. 23-25.
The Red Wing Republican Eagle received a Freedom of Information award from the Minnesota Newspaper Association during the annual convention Jan. 23-25.
The award recognized the newspaper’s efforts to make public any information Red Wing City Hall collected about City Council candidates. In 2006, staff writer Mike Longaecker reported that the city was requiring candidates to submit to detailed criminal and financial background checks. The R-E Editorial Board contended that checks were inappropriate — Minnesota law requires that candidates merely sign an affidavit stating they are eligible to run for office — and sent a dangerous message. Contest judges from the Colorado Newspaper Association agreed.
“This almost seemed like city hall would have applauded the re-establishment of poll taxing in addition to creating barriers for citizens to run for public office,” judges said.
The R-E argued that such information is public. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office concurred and added in a November 2006 ruling that such background checks are inappropriate.
This ruling clarified a relatively new Minnesota law that public data involving elected officials is indeed public.
A narrower interpretation of the law by the League of Minnesota Cities meant many cities had been refusing to release even home telephone numbers of elected officials.
The R-E also won second-place honors for its editorial page.
Staff writer Jen Cullen won second place in the features category, competing with 57 writers from Minnesota’s daily newspapers. Her story “Woven in darkness” about Roland Staub, who lost his sight years ago and makes baskets, was reprinted in newspapers across the region.
“Nice storytelling with very good images and detail,” judges said.
Staff writer Jon Swedien, who joined the R-E last August, earned first-place honors in the college competition. He was recognized for general reporting with the Reporter newspaper at Minnesota State University, Mankato.