AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN was recognized for its investigative content this week, being named one of two news organizations awarded with the 2022 Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

Presented each year at the FOI Foundation of Texas state conference, the award recognizes journalism that “upholds First Amendment rights and promotes or uses open government laws.”

“We congratulate these news organizations for keeping a close watch on government and holding it accountable. The public needs this kind of reporting. It’s the role of journalists to seek information and ask questions on behalf of the people,” said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the FOI Foundation of Texas.

KXAN won in the Class AA category for news markets of 500,000 and over for its investigation into Texas’ mental hospital backlog. Investigators examined a growing waitlist of people found mentally incompetent to stand trial who are waiting in Texas jails for treatment at a state hospital. Along the way, they discovered missing data points not tracked by the state that could help reduce the backlog and used information they found to fill in the blanks.

“We’re fortunate that someone is watching the people who should be watching,” the contest judge said. He called it “an excellent example of what happens when the state tells you it has no way to track what you’re looking for – build your own database.”

  • image of glass award
  • four people smile while holding an award

You can explore the winning investigative project here.