MU professor Charles Davis receives Freedom of the Press Award

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 | 7:09 p.m. CDT; updated 9:20 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 25, 2010

COLUMBIA — Charles Davis, former executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and an associate professor of journalism at MU, has won a John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award.

The announcement came in a news release from the National Press Club on Wednesday. The release stated Davis was being honored for having “done more than most to force light onto parts of national, state and local government that many in power want to keep hidden.”

“I’m rarely speechless, but I’m speechless,” said Davis, who learned about the award Wednesday morning when he received an e-mail from a colleague congratulating him. Davis said he didn’t even know he was being considered for the award.

A former reporter, Davis has worked and taught at MU for 11 years and described himself as a longtime advocate for freedom of speech.

“It is a precious, unappreciated right," he said. "People are too quick to take it for granted.”

Davis was the executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition from 2005-2010. He was also recognized for his research in governmental information and media law.

Each year, the National Press Club chooses one domestic recipient and one international recipient for the award. The international recipient was Kouhyar Goudarzi, an Iranian blogger who has reportedly been in solitary confinement since May of this year for his work.

Winning an award alongside Goudarzi was humbling, Davis said.

“It’s people whose rights are trampled who deserve it,” he said.

But Kenneth Bunting, Davis's successor as executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, said the award to Davis was well deserved.

“He undertakes his work with a missionary zeal,” he said.

Last year, Davis won the Journalism Teacher of the Year Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation. 

Davis has also been the Facilitator of the Media of the Future Initiative for Mizzou Advantage since April.

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