Jane Briggs-Bunting, a champion of open government, will be honored Thursday for her careerlong work to increase the transparency of and access to Michigan public records and meetings.
She is the first recipient of the Jane Briggs-Bunting Transparency in Government Award presented by the Michigan Coalition for Open Government (MiCOG).
Briggs-Bunting, a media attorney and former journalist, was director of the Michigan State University School of Journalism for six years after directing Oakland University’s journalism program from 1978-2003. She also was the spark who provided the momentum to found MiCOG in 2012. She stepped down from the board at the end of last year.
The award named for her honors the work of citizens who fight for better public access to government.
“Jane Briggs-Bunting has been a tireless, enthusiastic voice for transparency in government for decades. Her foresight in launching the Michigan Coalition for Open Government has allowed us to defend and expand public records laws here in Michigan,” said Michael Reitz, MiCOG president and Mackinac Center executive vice president for policy.
The award will be presented just ahead of Sunshine Week in Dearborn at the Michigan Press Association annual banquet Thursday, March 12. National Sunshine Week runs from March 15-21.
“Jane Briggs-Bunting has strived to improve transparency in Michigan government for years,” said Lisa McGraw, MiCOG vice president and public policy manager for the Michigan Press Association. “She has provided a strong voice for this cause and helped many Michigan citizens understand that sunshine in governmental affairs keeps our democracy strong. “
Briggs-Bunting, a resident of Harrisville, was a reporter for the Detroit Free Press from 1970 to 1978 and also worked as a correspondent for Life magazine and People magazine. She founded the Great Lakes Student Law Press Clinic in 2004 and served eight years as a board member for The State News, Michigan State University’s independent student newspaper.
In 2003, Briggs-Bunting was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. She served as a board member and past chair for the organization from 2006-2009. The Metro Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored her as its first Journalist of the Year in 1991 and gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
“MICOG’s award recognizes individual contributions to transparency in government. We are proud to honor Jane by naming this award for her,” Reitz said.
Sunshine Week is a national, non-partisan effort to highlight the critical role of open government and freedom of information at the local, state, and federal levels.
The Michigan Coalition for Open Government is a broad-based nonprofit committed to securing, protecting, expanding and maintaining the people’s right to know what goes on within its governments.
MiCOG’s founding members are the Mid-Michigan and Metro Detroit chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the First Amendment Clinic, Law College, Michigan State University. Its members include the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union and the Mackinac Center, along individual members.