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James S. Keat

2005 Distinguished Service Award Recipient: Baltimore Sun’s James S. Keat
James S. Keat is the second recipient of the MDDC Distinguished Service Award (DSA) for his dedication to open meetings and access to public records, as well as his long-term commitment to student journalists in the region.
Jim, retired editor of The Baltimore Sun, has been passionate about Freedom of Information (FOI) issues since his days as an editor where, he notes, he was “frustrated by the inability of the people, not just newspapers, to find out what the government is doing.”
He is an active member of the MDDC FOI Subcommittee and was a leader of two public records audits of Maryland agencies conducted by MDDC. Keat has been involved in many FOI issues over the years, including the public records audits, cameras in the courtroom and court records access.
When it comes to passion for openness in government, our organization has no equal,” said Tom Marquardt, executive editor of The Capital and chairman of the MDDC FOI Subcommittee. “Jim was there in the 1980s when we needed an editorial leader to take on revisions to the Open Meetings Act. Even after he retired, he stayed involved by testifying at hearings and giving the rest of us his sage advice and insightful analysis.”
Keat's other commitment in recent years has been to the Reese Cleghorn MDDC Internship Program and MDDC’s education programs. He has served as the coordinator of the Internship program since its inception in 1999. That year there were four interns placed at member newspapers. Since then, the competitive program has steadily grown with 10 interns having been selected in 2005 to work at the region’s newspapers. “He’s devoted much of his energy to ensure that bright, young journalists get a chance to ply their skills in the Maryland, Delaware and D.C. area,” said MDDC President John League, publisher of The Herald-Mail. “His work has helped many a young reporter and editor, many of our member newspapers, and raised the prestige of the MDDC Press Association.” “It’s a fitting and deserved tribute,” added League.
Keat, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, assistant managing editor and editorial page coordinator, spent several years working for The Sun’s New Delhi bureau as a correspondent and as bureau chief. He founded and edited Perspective, the Sunday news analysis section of The Sun, in the late 1960s. “Though now retired, Jim remains a fixture at board and committee meetings, where he has offered numerous worthwhile ideas and opinions and has maintained an abiding interest in all things editorial,” said Deborah Cornely, MDDC board member and associate publisher of The Dundalk Eagle.
League also cited Keat as the conscience of MDDC for his help in guiding the association. “When we get a bit off course, it’s frequently Jim who sees the big picture. He reinforces the role of newspapers and why they are so important,” said League.
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