I’m pleased to report that 2022 has been a momentous year for the organization.
In January, we held a well-attended and informative “Stories Behind the Biggest Stories of 2021” event to celebrate the important journalism done by the reporters and editors throughout the state. The event featured journalists from the CT Mirror, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, Hearst Connecticut Media and the Hartford Courant and was expertly moderated by NBC Connecticut’s Leslie Mayes.
The journalists discussed the stories that dominated Page One and affected our lives in many ways. Most importantly, they described how they dug out the facts, showing the resourcefulness, energy, dedication and courage it takes to break stories while too often facing opposition from those who strive to keep some of the business of the public secret.
In April, we were thrilled to bestow the Walter Cronkite Freedom of Information Award on Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour’s longtime and respected managing editor and anchor. Before an appreciative crowd at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Woodruff thanked our co-sponsor, Connecticut Public, and CFOG for our work to strengthen and celebrate the values of open government, transparency and accountability each day.
Her words were moving: “We are stronger because we air our differences in public. May we never take our First Amendment freedoms for granted.”
Finally, on Nov. 10, we will honor three Connecticut residents and a clinic at Yale Law School with the inaugural Mitchell W. Pearlman Freedom of Information Award. We have selected columnist David Collins of The Day of New London; former State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Tom Hennick of the state Freedom of Information Commission, and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale for making significant contributions in the areas of open government and freedom of information.
It is so fitting that CFOG’s newest award honors Mitch Pearlman, who served as the Connecticut FOIC’s first executive director for 30 years. A CFOG board member, he is recognized as an international expert on government transparency, information policy, privacy and data protection and freedom of the press.
His name is synonymous with FOI. No one has done more to ensure the people’s right to know in Connecticut, across the U.S. and perhaps, around the world, than Mitch has. He has been a stalwart public official, a teacher, a mentor and an inspiration for so many of us.
CFOG is dedicated to promoting open and transparent government in Connecticut. This principle is an essential value in our democracy, but still requires constant vigilance. Watchdogs such as CFOG are indispensable in this fight. We hope you will join me, Mitch and CFOG to honor our award winners on Nov. 10 at the Twain House. You can find more details in this newsletter and at ctfog.org.