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Murphy’s Law: MDDC Welcomes Melamed, Marquardt and Keat to the Newspaper Hall of Fame

By Jack Murphy

For more than two decades, Jim Keat, Tom Marquardt and Carol Melamed formed a somewhat unusual but highly effective team. The two editors and the lawyer represented three newspapers that competed strenuously for news in Annapolis. But, working closely together, they became the guiding force behind the MDDC Government Affairs Committee, and were the most important advocates for open government in Maryland.
Now, MDDC gathers to recognize and memorialize them in the MDDC Newspaper Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is at 5 p.m., Thursday, June 13, at Knight Hall, home of the Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, and the site of the Hall of Fame.
In 1991, Keat and Marquardt formed a task force of newspaper people from around the state to discuss the problem of improperly closed meetings, and to come up with ideas to address it. The task force met for months, crafting the framework of a bill, and then the three leaders worked to secure sponsors and votes, seeing it successfully through to enactment.
In the more than 20 years since that time, the Open Meetings Compliance Board has helped newspapers reporters and many private citizens keep government bodies operating in the open.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, Keat, Melamed and Marquardt worked with the MDDC Government Affairs Committee for open meetings, open records and open courts. During each session of the legislature, they worked with MDDC’s lobbyist to oppose the many bills that diminished public access and to support those that expanded it.
Another key accomplishment was a joint effort with the Maryland Association of Counties and others to improve compliance with the Public Information Act. As a result, the act was revised to clarify and streamline its requirements, and a training program for journalists and public officials was established.
Over the course of several years in the mid-2000s, Melamed worked with the Rules Committee of the Maryland Court of Appeals to draft rules for access to electronic court records. The court had first proposed drastically reducing public access, but the final rules maintained and facilitated access.
Now, MDDC offers Jim Keat, Tom Marquardt and Carol Melamed the highest praise and thanks the association has, inducting them in the Newspaper Hall of Fame. All three have now retired from their newspapers, but reporters, editors and photojournalists at our members continue to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

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