Co-director James Zachary was on hand with Jim for both the David E. Hudson Award presentation and the Freedom of Information Award at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
JEKYLL ISLAND — Transparency Project of Georgia Director Jim Zachary accepted the David E. Hudson Award for Open Government at an awards ceremony at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
The coveted David Hudson Award was created to honor journalists who work to keep government meetings and records open to the public and Zachary said he believe the work done by the Transparency Project of Georgia was a key part of being named the recipient because of the ways the grass roots project has empowered citizens.
“This was a team effort,” the honoree said.
Kelsey Cochran, James Zachary and I do what we do because of the values we share and our commitment to ordinary men and women who often feel as though government can do whatever it wants to do and that no one is willing to hold it accountable. We don’t accept that and are driven by the belief that government belongs to the governed and not the governing,” Jim Zachary said.
The award is named for one of the nation’s leading First Amendment and Open Government attorneys, David Hudson.
Hudson was on-hand for the presentation and called Zachary a “warrior for open government.”
“I have had a very fortunate career and been honored with many awards, but this one means more than words can express because of the man whose name it bears.” Zachary said during his acceptance speech. “David Hudson’s work reminds us why we do what we do. It is not about the awards. It is about each of our communities and the people who read our newspapers.”
Zachary encouraged the newspaper executives at the awards presentation to support and empower reporters and editors who are true watchdogs and hold government accountable. “Our work should be underpinned with the core principle that government belongs to the governed and not to the governing,” he said.
For the second year in a row, one of the newspapers where Zachary serves as editor, The Henry Daily Herald, has received the coveted Freedom of Information Award.
The FOI Award is considered one of the state’s top honors for newspapers and recognizes journalists who champion government transparency.
Robert Williams, president of the National Newspaper Association, was honored at the beginning of the awards ceremony and encouraged Zachary to, “Keep doing what you do and keep inspiring others to do it.”
Zachary said, “I have been blessed throughout my career and am humbled by the awards I have received both in Tennessee and Georgia, but what drives me and inspires the work is the plight of ordinary men and women who struggle to pay their property taxes each year, are concerned about quality education for their children or believe they are powerless to fight city hall.”