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McCleneghan earns First Amendment Freedom Award

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (NMFOG) will present its 2004 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award to a New Mexico State University journalism professor and three other supporters of open government at an awards dinner Nov. 19 in Albuquerque.

NMSU Journalism Professor Sean McCleneghan will receive the William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. (NMSU photo)

This year's recipients are NMSU Journalism Professor J. Sean McCleneghan, businessman Jamie Koch, long-time legislator Max Coll and lawyer Patrick J. Rogers.

The award is named for the late William S. Dixon, a lawyer and founder of NMFOG, who was known nationally as an advocate of the First Amendment and open government.

"Sean McCleneghan is noted for his insistence on respect for both the freedoms and the responsibilities of the First Amendment while emphasizing community journalism," said Robert H. Johnson, executive director of NMFOG.

McCleneghan is only the second educator in New Mexico to receive the annual Dixon Award. The first was New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. Lopez in 2002.

Chris Baker, a 1986 NMSU journalism graduate and the publisher of the award-winning community weekly The Taos News, will introduce McCleneghan at the awards banquet.

McCleneghan served as the NMSU journalism department head from 1982 to 1994. He initiated and still directs the department's paid internship program, through which 564 undergraduate students have earned more than $1.62 million in professional media experiences during summer internships since 1983.

This year McCleneghan earned his fourth award for teaching excellence and was honored by the El Paso Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America with its 2004 Star Communicator Award for his significant impact on the public relations profession. He is the author of more than 70 scholarly publications and 80 conference papers on the mass media.

Koch is president of Daniels Insurance Agency and president of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. He is a former state representative and was instrumental in the passage of improvements to the state's Inspection of Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act in the 1970s.

Coll retired this year after more than 30 years as a Democratic state representative from Santa Fe. As chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee for 17 years, he has insisted on an open approach to deciding how to spend the public's money. He opened all committee hearings to the public.

Rogers, a partner in the Modrall law firm in Albuquerque, is vice president of NMFOG. Since joining the organization in 1991, he has crafted and worked for amendments that have strengthened the state's Open Meetings Act, Inspection of Public Records Act and Arrest Record Information Act. He has represented FOG in significant legal cases resulting from violations of those laws by public bodies.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is an educational and charitable organization founded in 1990 to help the general public, students, educators, pubic officials, media and legal professionals understand and exercise their First Amendment rights.