Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


R.I.P.: Former Pioneer Press editor John Finnegan, in his own words

John Finnegan
John Finnegan

John R. Finnegan, who touched thousands of lives as a longtime Pioneer Press editor, teacher and indefatigable crusader for Minnesota’s data practices act, died Tuesday morning.

Finnegan — who led the St. Paul paper through the 1970s until the mid-’80s — preceded the late Deborah Howell, but journalists of my generation knew him as a wise, endlessly supportive presence at the University of Minnesota, where he was an adjunct professor, and as namesake of the Finnegan Freedom of Information Act award, which goes to those who open up government to better inform citizens.

Bob Shaw’s fitting obit is already up at the Pioneer Press, but if you have a little time and love of Minnesota journalism history, check out Jon Collins’ marvelous interview with Finnegan 15 months ago. It will give you a superb sense of what this fine man was about.

There’s a transcript here and audio here.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Matt Ehling on 10/02/2012 - 02:51 pm.

    Finnegan championed information access for all

    Thanks, David, for highlighting John Finnegan’s work.

    The Data Practices Act has arguably been the most important tool for the advancement of self governance that this state has seen in the last several decades.

    John Finnegan’s legacy should remind all of us who work in media today that we have a responsibility to act in the policy realm to secure and promote government transparency – not only on behalf of media institutions, but on behalf of the general public interest. John Finnegan’s great legacy was to establish the legal groundwork for information access for all – policy makers, reporters, and citizens alike. The job of today’s generation is to ensure that this civic-minded legacy is preserved.

Leave a Reply