Recently, the Associated Press awarded the Star Investigative Report of the Year Award
to B.J. Pollock, Bob Haenel and Stephen Palkot (Fort Bend Herald) for
their four-part series regarding personal information being posted on the
Internet by the Fort Bend County Clerk's Office.
Investigative Report of the year
"A remarkable look at how a zealous county
clerk has been selling Public Records and putting people's lives on the
Internet, raising important issues about the balance between the
public's right to know and the right to privacy,"
This marks the first time the Fort Bend Herald has won one of the
prestigious Star awards presented by the Texas Associated Press Managing
Editors. Publisher Clyde King said, "This is a tribute to the hard work the
three Herald staff members put in on this series. We are proud of them and
proud of the series about this important issue facing our county and the
"One of the things that works splendidly for this body of work is that
the topic moves clearly across the newsroom - from punchy, straightforward
investigative pieces to columns that bring context and, finally, an
editorial that calls for reform," the judges said.
The Public Records series by Pollock, Haenel and Palkot also won first
place in the Team Effort category.
Judges in that division said, "The sustained efforts on explaining and
exploring the consequences of putting county documents on the Internet is a
classic example of sustained journalistic focus. The thrust of the story is
one of privacy - the Social Security numbers, banking information and
medical records - that are suddenly there for the world to see, all because
of a county's exuberant decision to save time, money and space by making use
of cyberspace. The series of articles, columns and an editorial is concise,
clearly written and well-researched."
County Clerk Dianne Wilson sold millions of Fort Bend's records
'Public record' takes on new meaning in county
officials differ on Internet availability
County records: 'Damage is done,' says expert
found on Internet aids ID theft Stephen Palkot
Change in record policy can curb risk
Expert says charges could be filed against Wilson