OPEN GOVERNMENT — Mark Mahoney, the editorial page editor at a small daily newspaper in upstate Glens Falls, New York has won the Pulitzer Prize for his pieces in 2008 advocating openness in local government. His employer, the Post-Star, reports:
national contest annually recognizes the best reporting and writing
published in a calendar year, and the honorees generally come from the
biggest and most well-known newspapers in the country.
The Post-Star has
never before been recognized as a Pulitzer Prize winner or finalist
and, with 34,000 daily circulation, it was the smallest paper among
this years winners. Only one other paper with less than 100,000
circulation the East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Ariz., a co-winner in
the local news category was among the winners. All the others were large metropolitan papers, such as The New York Times, which won five prizes.
editorials focused on issues to which he has returned many times over
the years governmental openness and accountability, freedom of
information and First Amendment rights.
recognized by the judges, is to take on complicated, contentious issues
with clarity and wit. He has a gift for making dry topics, like the
Freedom of Information Law, readable through entertaining examples and
The winning editorials mostly dealt with issues frequently encountered in California —
- why school board members should not be kept from visiting schools,
- exemplary service to the public's right to know by town and city clerks,
- citizens' need to know and use their rights of access to public records,
- why school boards should disclose labor contracts before approving them,
- why a town board should not meet privately with the state comptroller,
- why government litigation settlements should not forbid public comment,
- why all public agencies should disclose labor contracts before approving them,
- why county supervisors should disclose labor contracts before approving them,
- why school board members should not be gagged from speaking without permission.