The Kansas City Star was named the grand prize winner Monday in the First Amendment category of the national APME awards for its series, "Why so secret, Kansas?"
The Associated Press Media Editors' annual contest honors excellence and innovation in journalism. The organization said this year's winners exposed abuse of the public trust and shed light on the human condition.
"The winning entries reflect a few common themes: a continued commitment to pursue strong watchdog reporting, experiment with innovative storytelling and find new, creative ways to directly engage audiences,” said APME President Jim Simon. “As many of my fellow judges noted, the list of winners shows the spirit of public interest journalism remains strong even in many financially strapped newsrooms with diminished resources."
The Star's series, which was recently named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in public service, was honored for "exposing the culture of secrecy in Kansas state government, and showing how it undermines the democratic process.
“The impact of the Star’s work was swift,” judges said. “In a 12-week span, 32 transparency measures were proposed, and the speaker of the House ended the practice of allowing bills to be introduced anonymously.”
The series also won the Scripps Howard Award in the First Amendment category, the National Headliners award for public service and was a finalist in two other national competitions.