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James S. Keat

MDDC Hall of Fame Class of 2013: Baltimore Sun's James S. Keat

A former editor and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, James S. Keat spent the better part of his final 15 years in journalism fighting to preserve, protect and strengthen the Open Meetings and the Freedom of Information Acts.

It’s a gift that future MDDC journalists will enjoy for years to come.

“When it comes to passion for openness in government, our organization has no equal,” said fellow MDDC Hall of Fame inductee Tom Marquardt, the recently retired publisher of the Annapolis Capital.

Even after he retired from the Sun in 1995, Keat continued to serve as the co-chair of MDDC’s FOI subcommittee. He also was instrumental in MDDC’s educational programs, helping to create and run the Reese Cleghorn Internship program.

In 2000, MDDC named its annual FOI award for Keat. It is bestowed on the newspaper that made the greatest contribution to fighting for open government. In 2005, Keat was awarded the MDDC’s Distinguished Service Award.

“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 John League, former publisher of the Herald-Mail and a former MDDC president.

A product of the public schools in New York City and Providence, R.I., Keat completed his undergraduate work at Brown University in 1951 and added a master’s degree from Columbia a year later. That helped Keat earn a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship, which he parlayed into a Ford Foundation Overseas Training Fellowship.

Keat spent two years as a financial news reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, 18 months studying the culture, history and language of India at Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania and field research in West Bengal in 1955-56.

Keat returned to join the Baltimore Sun in 1956 as a local news and government reporter. Keat covered civil rights demonstrations in Cambridge, Md. and the University of Mississippi, but returned to New Delhi in the winter of 1962-63 as part of the Sun’s bureau to cover India’s war with China.

Keat returned to Baltimore in 1963 to join the editorial page of the Evening Sun, but returned to the Baltimore Sin in 1965 as the paper’s bureau chief in India covering South Asia. Keat was named editor of the Sunday Perspective section in 1967 and was named the Sun’s first foreign news editor two years later.

As the Sun’s lone diplomatic correspondent for the paper’s Washington bureau, Keat covered Henry Kissinger’s first Middle East shuttle, which included a visit to China, in 1973.

Beginning in 1975, Keat became assistant managing editor and served on a task force which re-organized the Sun’s publishing operations. At the same time, Keat led the paper's Freedom of Information activities and co-chaired a committee of Maryland editors who drafted and sought passage of improvements in the state's Open Meetings law. He and Marquardt won the Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1991.

Jim passed away July 6, 2016.  His Baltimore Sun obituary is here.

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