Deadline for NEFAC’s Freedom of Information, Orfield Citizenship Awards Extended to Jan. 15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefirstamendment.org

The New England First Amendment Coalition is extending to Jan. 15 the application and nomination deadlines for its 2016 Freedom of Information and Antonia Orfield Citizenship awards.

The FOI Award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference is given to applicants who overcome significant official resistance. Application materials can be found here.

Previous recipients include:

  • James W. Foley (posthumously) | A seasoned war correspondent, New Hampshire native Foley committed himself to the truth and, in his words, “exposing untold stories.” While working in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, Foley reported on the lives of those disadvantaged and suffering.
  • Brent Curtis | A reporter for the Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Curtis fought for access to certain police records and helped make Vermont police departments more transparent.
  • Don Stacom | Stacom of the Hartford Courant pursued stories about police misconduct through the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, prompting a shakeup of the New Britain, Conn., police department.

The Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award is given to an individual from one of the six New England states who has fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or what its government is doing — or not doing — on its behalf. The candidate should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty while obtaining information that the public has a right to know. Nomination forms can be found here.

The Citizenship Award is named after Antonia Orfield, an author, mother, optometrist, clinical professor and active citizen. Dr. Orfield worked to improve the schools in the communities she lived in, serving on one of the first elected local school councils in Chicago. Dr. Orfield operated a vision clinic in Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, Mass., which documented the improvement of children’s grades and test scores with unconventional vision-related remedies to learning problems. The findings were published in several articles and in “Eyes for Learning,” her 2007 book.

Previous recipients of the Citizenship Award include:

  • Harriet Cady | Cady is a long-time open government activist, frequently speaking on freedom of information concerns and recently helping to create the watchdog group Right to Know New Hampshire.
  • Kit Savage | Savage’s investigation uncovered violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which formed the basis of a complaint to the Connecticut Department of Education.
  • David Lang | After a nine-year crusade, Lang exposed the mismanagement of health insurance premiums, resulting in a court order to refund $53 million to New Hampshire public employees.

The awards will be presented at NEFAC’s annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on February 19 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, Mass. Also to be presented at the luncheon is the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award.

The Hamblett First Amendment Award, named after the late former publisher of The Providence Journal, is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will accept the 2016 Hamblett Award.

The awards luncheon is part of the New England Newspaper & Press Association‘s winter convention. More information about the luncheon can be found here.

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NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Donations can be made here. Major Supporters of NEFAC for this year include: The Robertson Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Boston Globe and Boston University.

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