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'Sister Site' Hercules Patch Wins First Amendment Award

Hercules Patch, part of the East Bay regional group that includes Piedmont Patch, will receive a James Madison Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for its coverage of the City of Hercules' financial woes

Hercules Patch will receive a James Madison Award next month for its championship of the First Amendment and freedom of information, the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California (SPJ) has announced.

According to the SPJ, Hercules Patch will receive a News Media award "for its dogged tracking of the questionable financial management practices in the East Bay city of Hercules. Patch produced more than 13 investigative stories and 100 daily stories, and created 20 databases to follow the money."

Hercules Patch is part of AOL's 800+ network of community news websites. It's in Patch's East Bay Region, which also includes Piedmont Patch and eight other sites.

The annual awards go to "“individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to the advancement of freedom of information and expression in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment," the SPJ said.

The award will be presented at the 27th annual James Madison Awards Banquet on Thursday, March 15, at the City Club of San Francisco.

The Hercules coverage was a team effort between , and two freelancer investigative reporters, Bob Porterfield and . Patch also worked closely with colleagues at its sister publication, The Huffington PostTim O'Brien, Huffington Post executive editor, shaped and edited several major investigative pieces and coordinated joint publication of that work on Patch and HuffPost.

"Here’s why this award really feels special," Kearney said in an article on Hercules Patch announcing the award. "The SPJ also recognized how Patch's coverage connected with you. The judges were impressed with the commentary on Hercules Patch from residents who were experiencing the city’s financial collapse firsthand. In that very real sense, this award also belongs to you."

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