State Politics

Herald’s Klas receives national open government award for her state capital reporting

Mary Ellen Klas is the Miami Herald’s state capital bureau chief.
Mary Ellen Klas is the Miami Herald’s state capital bureau chief. Miami Herald file photo

Mary Ellen Klas, the Miami Herald’s bureau chief in Tallahassee, is being honored for her contributions to open government with the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the national organization announced Thursday.

Also receiving Sunshine Awards are Rachel La Corte of the Associated Press and ProPublica. A judging panel, composed of SPJ Board of Directors and Freedom of Information Committee members, gives the award each year to individuals and organizations for their contributions to open government.

Klas has been covering government and politics in Florida for 30 years. Her tenacity in accessing government information, reporting and writing it have proven vital in the progression of open government, SPJ said in its announcement.

“[Klas] will go through every word of every public record before her byline goes on a story,” Florida-based lawyer Florence Snyder wrote in regard to Klas. “She attends court hearings and public meetings in person, even if the proceedings are on cable TV. Mary Ellen’s contributions to open government are more than important. They are singular.”

The Herald operates its state capital bureau in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times.

La Corte has been a reporter for the Associated Press for more than 20 years. She has covered Washington state politics since January 2005 and was previously based out of AP’s Miami and Tampa offices. Last year, she led a lawsuit against the Washington Legislature over lawmakers’ claims that they are exempt from the state’s Public Records Act.

ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism. While covering appointees to federal agencies made by the Trump administration, ProPublica created a comprehensive list that details the names, titles and roles of hundreds of political appointees.

The recipients will be recognized at the SPJ President’s Installation Banquet at Excellence in Journalism 2018 in Baltimore, Sept. 27-29.