The UpTake has won the 2016 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information career achievement award for our “pioneering” use of live video. The Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) made the announcement today.
“The Uptake’s sustained public affairs work,” said MNCOGI chair Gary Hill, “has expanded access to Minnesota’s civic life, opened video windows for the public to see their leaders at work and provided important information about governmental processes.”
When The UpTake started livestreaming video in 2007 it was a novelty that we thought held great promise. In 2008, we hacked mobile phones to do live mobile video and revolutionized how people watched the protests outside the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. By 2009, thousands of people were watching daily for months when The UpTake provided live video coverage of the recount and election court challenge of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken.
History in video and photos, plus an invitation for you.
Video: The Uptake’s Corrine McDermid outside the 2008 RNC documenting the tension, the frustration, and the spirit of protesters.
Since then we’ve done thousands of live events and streamed tens of thousands of hours of video. Whether it was a big event or a small one, the goal was always the same: provide an easy way for the public to see what is happening in our political process and a record so people can’t later take things out of context or claim things were said when they really weren’t. In other words, we’re trying to get everyone a little more informed and a little closer to the truth.
St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper editor John R. Finnegan had the same goal. He wanted to “create an informed citizenry without which a democratic republic cannot sustain itself,” and constantly strove to find the truth. He co-wrote and helped lobby for passage of the Minnesota Data Practices Act. He was president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association where he was heralded for his “uncompromising insistence on openness.” “Nobody in the history of Minnesota Journalism was ever so devoted to open government as Jack Finnegan,” said Bob Shaw, a longtime manager of the Minnesota Newspaper Association.
To receive the award that bears Finnegan’s name is indeed a great honor not just for the current staff of The UpTake, but all of the people who worked to build the organization, the volunteers who have been on the front lines and our many supporters. Their collective effort is a statement of how important it is to seek transparency, an informed democracy and the truth.
MNCOGI will present the award on Wednesday March 16th at noon. We’re inviting our community to attend the event at the downtown Minneapolis library’s Pohlad room. If you can’t attend, consider watching it live streamed on The UpTake. The keynote speaker is Chicago-based independent journalist Brandon Smith. Smith’s open records lawsuit forced the City of Chicago to release a dash cam video that it had withheld from the public for 13 months. The video showed Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17 year old Laquan McDonald 16 times as he walked away from police. Prosecutors charged Office Van Dyke with first degree murder the same day the video was released.
Also receiving a Finnegan award will be Burnsville Chief of Police Eric Gieseke his work in advocating police body cameras for improving officer performance and addressing citizen concerns about police conduct. “Public access to police data and video is central to the use of body cameras as an accountability tool,” said MNCOGI chair Gary Hill. “Burnsville’s experience shows that public access and body cameras can work together.”
UpTake staff and founders in September 2009