Congratulations to the Charlotte Observer for winning a McClatchy President’s Award for journalism excellence in 2011. It won for its series on car inspections. The Observer’s four-part series “Failing the Test” found a sprawling government program full of problems with little evidence of improving highway safety. “This is the kind of watchdog work that affects just about everybody,” the judges said. The series made the case so convincingly that it led to immediate response from lawmakers.
Congratulations to the News & Record for an editorial calling out the City Council for denying the public a chance to evaluate candidates for the city manager’s job. This would take place under a cover of cloak-and-dagger secrecy, slipping candidates in and out of interviews without letting them see each other, the public or, especially, nosy journalists. But if the council trusts (recruiter) Burg to produce six or seven “highly qualified” candidates, and trusts its own judgment to narrow that number to two, why not trust the public to form impressions of those final two?
Congratulations to the N&O for an editorial demanding the Wake County Sheriff reveal details of a death in the county jail. Sheriff Donnie Harrison, who is responsible for operation of the jail, has demonstrated that he unfortunately isn’t inclined to share what ought to be public information with the citizens he serves, unless he has no other choice. The sheriff’s resistance to openness isn’t appropriate for a publicly elected official and in cases such as incidents in the jail, his penchant for secrecy damages his credibility.