Congratulations to this year’s First Amendment Award winner, Lisa Demer. Here’s a section from her nomination:
Lisa Demer moved out of the journalism field this year, a tremendous loss for Alaska.
Lisa joined the ADN 23 years ago from the Tampa Tribune and has done far too many memorable stories to list. Just a few of the topics she covered in depth speak to her range: Alaska’s troubled foster-care system, Shell’s Arctic drilling program and Pebble, life in rural Alaska, extended stints in Juneau covering the Legislature.
Features, weekend shifts, hundreds of news stories – her work was marked again and again by thorough and careful reporting, deep dedication and a relentless desire to do journalism in the public interest. She values community inside the walls of the newsroom and out.
After the sale/merger of the ADN to the Alaska Dispatch in 2014, she made a giant move — uprooting to open our a western Alaska bureau in Bethel. She embraced life in rural Alaska wholeheartedly and readers were richer for it.
DEADLINE: Materials must be submitted electronically to the Alaska Press Club by Friday, March 1, 2019. This should include a letter of recommendation and supporting materials. Email nominations to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
About the Award
The Alaska Press Club presents its annual Howard Rock/Tom Snapp First Amendment Award to spotlight an individual, group or organization in Alaska that has promoted, defended or preserved one or more of the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Howard Rock was an artist and Inupiaq Eskimo from Pt. Hope in Northwest Alaska and founding editor/publisher of Tundra Times, a crusading statewide weekly newspaper that championed Alaska Native land and other rights. Rock ran Tundra Times in Fairbanks from 1962 until his death in 1976, starting the paper with Fairbanks journalist Tom Snapp, who trained Rock in journalism.
With this award, the Alaska Press Club honors the outstanding performance of an individual, group, project and/or organization for contributions to the cause of First Amendment values, either in the previous year alone or over many years.
Our democratic way of life depends on the rights of free expression as delineated in the First Amendment: freedom of the press; freedom of speech; freedom of religion, freedom of assembly; and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances. The press certainly plays an ongoing role to advance and protect First Amendment freedoms, but some acts of courage and/or persistence can and should be recognized and celebrated. The Alaska Press Club seeks to recognize such contributions by working journalists or others who uphold and defend First Amendment rights and values with courage and conviction.
Journalists certainly offer regular, outstanding examples of fortitude to spotlight, but often unsung heroes outside the working profession distinguish themselves by assisting the press, the government, academia, business and/or others in protecting First Amendment rights. Therefore, this award can recognize journalists and non-journalists (such as this award’s first recipient). The Press Club also sponsors an annual Public Service Award that recognizes only a body of work during the previous calendar year for which individuals and/or organizations nominate themselves. The First Amendment Award honors nominations by others. This is the only award the Press Club board judges. Nominations typically function more like a “lifetime achievement” award in service of the First Amendment.
Howard Rock Tom Snapp First Amendment Award Recipients
2017: Lisa Demer, Alaska Dispatch News/Anchorage Daily News
2016: Brian O’Donoghue, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
2015: Alexandra Gutierrez with Alaska Public Radio Network, and Jill Burke, Richard Mauer, Lisa Demer at the Alaska Dispatch News
2015: Steve Heimel, Alaska Public Media
2014: Sheila Toomey, Anchorage Daily News
2013: Dermot Cole, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
2012: Nancy McGuire, editor and owner of the Nome Nugget
2011: Alaska Dispatch
2009: Judith & Gregg Erickson (founding co-publishers, Alaska Budget Report)
2008: Peter Dunlap-Shohl (editorial cartoonist)
2007: John McKay (attorney)
Any project, group, individual or individuals who have demonstrated the protection of and extension of any, some, or all of the basic rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, particularly as it relates to press freedom or free speech, could be eligible for this award. Like other First Amendment awards nationwide, nominees need not be journalists. The Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award, for example, “encourages recognition of those outside the journalism profession for their First Amendment efforts and initiatives, such as, but not limited to, public officials, members of the legal profession, scholars, educators, librarians,
students and ordinary citizens.”
Nominations can include supporting documentation (such as publications or other communication such as journalistic writing, artistic expression, legal writings, record of activities and so forth). Nevertheless, one letter of support or other pieces of documentation also can suffice. Information should explain the worthiness of the candidate(s) for the award. The Howard Rock Tom Snapp First Amendment Award seeks to recognize those who have demonstrated extraordinary will, character, courage, intelligence, lifetime achievement and/or integrity in the defense, promotion and protection of the First Amendment.
*Nomination letter should specify the specific actions taken to promote and preserve rights; confront and overcome barriers; and measure discernable results. Nomination should outline the overall contribution of the candidate(s) to the fortification of the First Amendment in Alaska or for public issues affecting Alaska.
*Supporting materials are encouraged but not necessary and may include published or broadcast information or other appropriate documentation.
*All entries become the property of The Alaska Press Club and cannot be returned. They may be republished for general distribution or used to publicize the award.
The award is granted upon the sole and final judgment of The Alaska Press Club Board.