John R. Finnegan FOI and John Borger Lifetime Achivement Awards

Each year MNCOGI celebrates Freedom of Information Day by presenting the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information award and the John Borger Lifetime Achievement award in the spirit of Mr. Finnegan’s and Mr. Borger’s demonstrated leadership and commitment to the freedom of information and its power to effect change. The Finnegan Award may be given to individuals or organizations; the Borger Award may be given to individuals. MNCOGI may give either a John R. Finnegan FOI award, a John Borger Lifetime Achievement Award, or both for any given award year. 

Established in 1989, the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information award is given to those individuals and groups who demonstrate through expression and action commitment to the idea that a popular and democratic government can never realize the aspirations of the founding fathers without the participation of an informed electorate. An informed electorate cannot exist without access to information.

MNCOGI’s John Borger Lifetime Achievement Award is named for the First Amendment attorney whose significant body of accomplishments helped to advance and preserve the public’s right to government transparency. It is given as needed. Borger, a long-time MNCOGI board member, worked for decades to protect Minnesota’s sunshine laws. In landmark public access cases and dozens of open-records and open-meeting battles, Borger fought to assure that public officials lived up to the demands of data practices law.

Who should receive this year’s Finnegan FOI Award? Feel free to nominate an individual or organization whose actions this past year have demonstrated leadership and commitment to freedom and the power of information to effect change. Who should receive this year’s John Borger Lifetime Achievement Award? Feel free to nominate an individual whose actions have demonstrated sustained leadership, defense, or advancement of freedom of information over many years. In both cases, actions may include: using technology and other means to facilitate access to information; advocating for legislative and other policies that maximize the public’s right to know; educating the public on the importance of freedom of information; assuring that government and other institutions comply with policies that maximize transparency; operating libraries and other institutions in a manner that affords the greatest possible access to information; challenging any form of authority that would thwart the objective of assuring the existence of an informed electorate; and linking the idea of freedom of information to the Bill of Rights and especially to the First Amendment.

The 2022 nomination period has closed. Nominees are being considered, and winners will be announced soon.

Download Form PDF | Download Form Word Doc 

Past FOI Award Winners

2022

  • Brandon Stahl, A. J. Lagoe, Gary Knox & Steve Eckert of KARE 11: John R. Finnegan FOI Award
  • Leita Walker: John R. Finnegan FOI Award
  • James Barnum: John Borger Lifetime Achievement Award

Award Accouncement

2021

  • Mapping Prejudice and Hennepin County
  • Barry LaGrave, Director of Minnesota House Public Information Services, and Steve Senyk, Director of Minnesota Senate Media Services

Ceremony Recording

2020

APM Reports “In the Dark” team: Madeleine Baran, Samara Freemark, Natalie Jablonski, Rehman Tungekar, Parker Yesko, and Will Craft.

Ceremony Announcement

2019

Brandon Stahl, Jennifer Bjorhus, MaryJo Webster and Renee Jones Schneider; Star Tribune

Ceremony Announcement

2018
Chris Serres, Star Tribune
Paul Hannah, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Ceremony Announcement

2017
Tony Webster
Ceremony Announcement
Ceremony Recording by The Uptake

2016
The Uptake
Burnsville Police Chief Eric Gieseke
event recording by The Uptake

2015
Mary Liz Holberg, Minnesota legislator
press release

2014
Marshall Helmberger, editor and publisher of the Timberjay Newspaper
Robert Shaw and Rogers Adams (Minnesota Government Data Practices Act), lifetime achievement award winners
press release
presentation

2013
Michele Timmons, Minnesota revisor of statutes
event info
Presentation
press release

2012
Matt Ehling of Public Record Media; TV producer, documentary filmmaker and writer
event info
Presentations
Interview with Matt Ehling
Interview with Amy Goodman
press release

2011
Don Shelby, former WCCO-TV Anchor and MinnPost Columnist
Don Betzold, Minnesota State Senator
press release

2010
Reed Anfinson, Publisher, Swift County Monitor
event flyer
Podcast interview with Reed Anfinson about the importance of Freedom of Information (conducted by Renee McGivern)
press release

2009
Richard (Rich) Neumeister, citizen lobbyist and relentless advocate for the public’s interest
press release
Congratulation letter from Governor Tim Pawlenty
Congratulation letter from Attorney General Lori Swanson
press release

2008
Martiga Lonn and Brian Bakst, Associated Press
Dan Browning, Kevin Diaz, Patrick Doyle, Mike Kaszuba, Tony Kennedy and Paul McEnroe, Star Tribune
event information
press release

2007
Gary Hill, long-time journalist
event information
press release

2006
Colleen Coghlan, Librarian and Professor
press release

2005
Donald A. Gemberling, of the Minnesota Data Practices Act
remarks from Kit Hadley
press release

2004
Marvin Roger Anderson, Director, Minnesota State Law Library
press release

2003
Senator Mark Dayton
photos of presentation and award
press release

2001
Minnesota E-Democracy

2000
Marilyn Cathcart, Director, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
Bridges – Minnesota’s Gateway to Environmental Information
press release

1999
Mary Treacy, Director, Metronet
press release

1998
MIGIZI Communications
press release

1997
Access Minnesota
Telecommunications Access Grants

1996
The North Star Project, State of Minnesota

1995
Minnesota Legislature Gopher Design Group
press release

1994
The Urban Coalition of Minneapolis
press release

1993
Julia Wallace, Regional Depository Librarian and Head of Government Publications, University of Minnesota
press release

1992
Alan Robinette (posthumously awarded), Director, Land Management Information Center, State of Minnesota
press release

1991
Peter S. Popovich, Chief Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court
press release

1990
Sue Holbert, Minnesota State Archivist
press release
remarks

1989
Mary Alice Harvey, Director, Grand Marais Public Library
remarks