Keeping his ear to the door wins Best of States prize for NMG member Gary Fineout

Florida Statehouse reporter and Guild member Gary Fineout put his ear to a closed door to find out what lawmakers were saying and won the $300 Best of the States award for his work.

On April 21, the House Republican caucus held a closed-door session to discuss a stalemate over whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program.

Guild member Gary Fineout with his ear at the door of a legislative meeting.  (Photo by Curt Anderson)

Guild member Gary Fineout with his ear at the door of a legislative meeting. (Photo by Bill Cotterell)

Under the Florida Constitution, meetings must be public any time three or more legislators meet to discuss legislation. The House GOP leadership said this meeting was exempt because it was to discuss procedures, not a specific bill.

Legislators didn’t respond to his questions as they entered the room. So Fineout pressed his ear to the door and was able to provide a play-by-play to other reporters.

The Capitol press corps praised Fineout, as did national reports such as Jim Romenesko, who called his work “good ear-to-the-door reporting.”