Attorney honored by Michigan Press Association with scholarship

A new scholarship for journalists from throughout Michigan who wish to immerse themselves in First Amendment/Freedom of Information issues honors recently retired Michigan Press Association general counsel Dawn Hertz.

The Dawn Hertz Freedom of Information Scholarship will be awarded to a working journalist with at least two years of experience at an MPA member publication. Specific project and program eligibility requirements and application deadlines will be announced later this year.

"Dawn Hertz has been an invaluable friend of the Michigan Press Association and the newspapers of this state for nearly 30 years," says MPA Foundation President David Jackson, president of Shoreline Media, Inc., in Ludington.

"We can think of no better tribute to her many contributions to the freedoms of information and the press than to endow a scholarship fund in her honor.

"The Dawn Hertz Freedom of Information Scholarship will provide stipends to assist journalists employed by MPA members to attend classes, workshops or seminars to improve their understanding of the public's right to information."

By endowing this fund, notes Jackson, "We reserve the donations in perpetuity for the original purpose, and we will award the scholarships from the earnings of those donations."

With $2,000 in seed funds from MPA Foundation board members and friends, the group is creating its first endowed fund.

The surprise announcement came during a reception to honor Hertz during last week's MPA convention in Grand Rapids.

Also a surprise, at least to Hertz, was Jackson's arrival; he flew in from Florida to make the announcement honoring his longtime friend and colleague.

"Open government is essential to a democracy. I am therefore especially honored by the creation of this scholarship in my name," said Hertz, of counsel to Butzel Long.

The Foundation is matching the next $5,000 in donations dollar for dollar, Jackson told reception attendees.

"We already have $500 in donations from other MPA members, which will be matched by $500 from MPAF. That gives us $3,000 so far; we will match the next $4,500 in donations until March 31."

Foundation officers and directors, all past MPA presidents, wanted to pay tribute to Hertz and to her work with MPA that often put governmental units on notice they are required to follow the state's freedom of information and open meetings statutes or face litigation for non-compliance.

Hertz also has assisted college and university news organizations as they grapple with sometimes recalcitrant administrators and, in the case of Central Michigan University's student publication, CM Life, police officials who confiscated a photographer's camera.

Foundation Vice President Ken Winter, former publisher of The Petoskey News-Review, kicked off the fundraising with a $500 lead gift.

Within a week, every Foundation board member contributed, as did several former Foundation directors.

The Foundation's 501(c)(3) status means that all contributions are tax deductible for those who itemize their return; donations made before March 1 will count on 2009 returns.

Pledge forms are available through Janet Nellis Mendler, janet@michiganpress.org; (517) 552-2811.

Individuals whose employers match charitable gifts are encouraged to contact the appropriate office for a gift form; corporations also may contribute.

Published: Fri, Feb 19, 2010

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