Secrecy.
Censorship.
Speech Restrictions.

These are what stand in the way of the First Amendment and the public’s right to know. Too often the scale tips in favor of these interests. The New England First Amendment Coalition is here to minimize their effects on your freedom. Our coalition serves as a counterweight by providing: Education. Advocacy. Defense.

Here’s how we made an impact in 2017.

And here’s how you can help us in 2018.


Vermont Open Meeting and Public Records Law | NEFAC’s Michael Donoghue testifies on behalf of the coalition in favor of H.910, “An Act Relating to the Open Meeting Law and Public Records Act. The legislation intends to update and clarify the state’s freedom of information laws. Donoghue describes ways public officials are circumventing these laws and how the legislation would help prevent violations. View NEFAC’s testimony here.


The First Amendment: What Are Its Limits? | NEFAC’s Jennifer Peter, managing editor of The Boston Globe, discusses contemporary First Amendment issues with Susan Benesch, director of the Dangerous Speech Project, and Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Award-winning journalist and senior correspondent for WBUR’s Bostonomix Bruce Gellerman moderates. View a full recording of the discussion here.


Sunshine Week: New Hampshire Right to Know Law | NEFAC presented a panel discussion on the New Hampshire Right to Know Law at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester. Gregory V. Sullivan and Rick Gagliuso, both members of NEFAC’s Board of Directors, joined Nancy West of InDepthNH.org, David Saad of Right to Know NH and James Kennedy, city solicitor for Concord. View a full recording of the discussion here. Learn more about Sunshine Week 2018 here.


2018 New England First Amendment Awards | NEFAC honored Jane Mayer of The New Yorker with its Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. Todd Wallack of The Boston Globe received the coalition’s Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award. The Hyde Square Task Force received the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. Learn more about the program, watch a complete recording of the event and view photos of attendees here.


Rights of a Free People | NEFAC’s Justin Silverman and Ed Fitzpatrick join Linda Levin of Access/RI on Rights of a Free People to discuss the First Amendment and open government issues in Rhode Island. The program is sponsored by the ACLU of Rhode Island and featured topics such as state FOI legislation, cameras in the courts and Sunshine Week. The show is hosted by Carolyn Mannis, a Rhode Island attorney and board member of the ACLU of Rhode Island. Full video here.


The First Amendment Works for You | NEFAC’s Dan Klau, a Connecticut-based attorney, discussed the First Amendment, freedom of the press and free speech at Connecticut’s Old State House in Hartford. Klau was joined by journalist Denis Horgan. The presentation was part of the Old State House’s Conversations series and sponsored by the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government. Learn more about the Old State House here. Full video here.


The First Amendment and Free Speech | NEFAC co-sponsored a panel discussion in Montpelier, Vt., on free speech, exploring First Amendment principles and how constitutional freedoms can be protected. Speakers included coalition board members Lia Ernst of the ACLU of Vermont and Michael Donoghue of the Vermont Press Association, as well as Peter Teachout of Vermont Law School and David Moats of the Rutland Herald. More info here.


Trump Tweets, First Amendment | NEFAC’s Robert Bertsche discusses the impact of a tweet by President Trump showing the president outside a wrestling ring pummeling a man in a business suit and with a CNN logo over his face. Listen to the interview here.


Journalism and ‘Fake News’ | With a new presidential administration, journalists are finding their profession under attack. NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman discusses the state of journalism with Steve Klamkin and the WPRO Saturday Morning News. Listen to the interview here.


The Next Four Years and the Press | A panel of journalism and media law experts discuss the challenges facing the press under the Trump Administration. The panel includes Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post, recipient of the New England First Amendment Coalition’s 2017 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award and Robert Bertsche, a media attorney at Prince Lobel Tye LLP and a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors. More info here.


2017 New England First Amendment Awards |  As part of its annual luncheon, NEFAC honored Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post with its Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. The Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine, received the coalition’s Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award. Donna Green received the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. Learn more about the program, watch a complete recording of the event and view photos of attendees here.


Legal and Ethical Issues Facing New England Journalists, Newsrooms | NEFAC presented a panel discussion on the latest legal and ethical issues within local newsrooms, including a summary of First Amendment and privacy law. Topics also included photography ethics, editorial considerations, drone use and press access to public school events. The video is available to view for free with a $10 suggested donation. Video and summary here.

Body Camera Footage, Vermont Public Records | NEFAC recently called on law enforcement in Vermont to release all video capturing the shooting of an unarmed man in Winooski, citing the public interest in police transparency. Coalition representatives spoke to local and regional news outlets about Vermont’s public records law and how releasing video of police shootings can help build trust between law enforcement officers and their communities.


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Police Body Cameras and FOI Legislation | As police departments around the country increasingly use body cameras, many questions arise about access to these video records under FOI laws and how journalists can use the videos ethically. NEFAC conducted a panel discussion of issues related to the use of body cameras at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Conn. Jim Smith, a coalition board member, moderated the panel. Video and recap here.


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About Sunshine Week |  NEFAC joins open-government advocates across the country every March to celebrate Sunshine Week. This national campaign is an initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. [More]

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About Our New England First Amendment Institute |  Our annual institute provides editors and reporters with the support and training necessary to become accomplished investigative journalists, well versed in the access laws that govern today’s difficult reporting landscape. [More]

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About Our New England First Amendment Awards Luncheon | During our annual luncheon, we present the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award and the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. [More]

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About the NEFAC Report |  Stay informed of all First Amendment and FOI news in New England with our monthly dispatch. This newsletter features original reporting by journalists, attorneys and right-to-know advocates who are on the frontline of freedom of information and First Amendment battles. [More]