A series of News & Observer stories about the state's secretive personnel law has won a national journalism award.
"Keeping Secrets," written this spring by reporter Dan Kane, captured the First Amendment Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors. The award honors work that advances freedom of information, makes good use of FOI principles or statutes, or significantly widens the scope of information available to the public.
Kane's three-part series, published in March, showed that North Carolina's personnel law, which has shielded much information about state employees' behavior from the public, was one of the most restrictive in the nation.
The N&O, through the N.C. Open Government Coalition, shared the stories with other media outlets across the state.
The series led to a new state law that will make it easier to get more information about the pay and performance of state employees.
Database editor David Raynor also contributed to the series.
Kane, 49, joined The N&O investigative team last year. He previously had reported extensively on state government; his work included investigations of the state lottery and former House Speaker Jim Black, who is now in federal prison.
This is the second time in three years that The N&O has won the APME award; two years ago, it won for stories that revealed policies of former Gov. Mike Easley that led to deletion of e-mail messages that were public records.