Editor: Open access to government 'keeps us free'
The Telegraph of Nashua was honored Tuesday with the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award for its Open Government Project, which the newspaper describes as “committed to improving citizens' access to public records through right-to-know law requests, news coverage and education.”
"Right-to-know gives us the opportunity to cut through the lies and get to the truth. The right-to-know reveals to us wrongs we never even knew existed. The right-to-know keeps us free," Telegraph editor Phil Kincade said. "This is why we at The Telegraph are so appreciative of this award. It's something very special to us. It enlivens us. It encourages us. It invigorates us."
"Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. That is the opening sentence of the preamble of New Hampshire's right-to-know law," he said. "There is no more succinct way to say it."
The keynote speaker for the event was ABC-TV anchor George Stephanopoulos, a political veteran who as an analyst and advisor is quite familiar with the Granite State and its first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
The paper's right-to-know campaign has brought about several changes within Nashua city government. Among them was the police commission changing its meeting times from early morning to evening, providing more citizens the opportunity to attend. The commission is also publicizing agendas and minutes from its meetings for the first time, Kincade said.
Jonathan Van Fleet, managing editor for content, said many right-to-know requests don't lead to significant revelations or major headlines. But the effort itself is a tool the public must continue to utilize to ensure transparency within government.