NCJ's Greenson Takes Second Freedom of Information Award

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NCJ News editor Thadeus Greenson
  • NCJ News editor Thadeus Greenson

The Society of Professional Journalists NorCal announced its winners of the James Madison Freedom of Information Award this week, "recognizing people and organizations who have made significant contributions to advancing freedom of information." Among the recipients is the Journal's own news editor Thad Greenson, for his investigative story "The Soeth Files" (May 4, 2023).

The story, which last month garnered a Free Speech and Open Government Award from the First Amendment Coalition, tracks the questionable use of force, including shootings, over the career of Maxwell Soeth, who still serves in Humboldt County law enforcement. This took public record requests, internal police documents, dash cam footage and interviews, all stemming from a single tip.

The SPJ NorCal announcement lauds Greenson's work, saying, "Through meticulous reporting and savvy use of the Public Records Act, the North Coast Journal’s Thadeus Greenson exposed a glaring lack of accountability at the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office."

This is Greenson's second time earning the prestigious award, following his 2017 James Madison Freedom of Information win for another investigation regarding police accountability. Greenson was recognized for not only his reporting on then Eureka Police Sgt. Adam Laird, but for fighting for public records and camera footage withheld by the city. Read the story here.

Read the SPJ NorCal's full statement on Greenson's 2024 award below:

Through meticulous reporting and savvy use of the Public Records Act, the North Coast Journal’s Thadeus Greenson exposed a glaring lack of accountability at the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. “The Soeth Files” revealed how a single deputy, Maxwell Soeth, repeatedly lied about his conduct following a string of violent interactions that ultimately cost taxpayers more than $1 million in legal settlements and laid bare how Soeth’s superiors allowed him to continue reporting for duty — even after an internal investigation found his use of force “unreasonable” and “not justified.” Greenson pieced the story together with thousands of pages of public records to corroborate witness accounts. The impact of this dogged reporting continues to reverberate throughout Humboldt County after the district attorney [reportedly] placed Soeth on the “Brady List,” prompting cases in which he was a key witness to be pled down or dismissed.

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