Press Coverage

NEFAC receives considerable press coverage each year for its consistent advocacy of freedom of information and First Amendment concerns. Below are links to stories we’ve appeared in during the current year. Coverage from previous years can be seen here: 201820172016201520142013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Student-Journalists Recognized for Fighting Censorship | WCAX-Burlington 2.15.18

The former Burlington High School guidance director has now lost his license over charges of misconduct. During a luncheon, the New England First Amendment Coalition will honor the young journalists from the school newspaper. The Register who did not back down from their story. The students used public records last year to write the story, and led to some back and forth with school leaders and allegations of censorship.

Vermont High School Paper to Be Recognized for Pushing Story | Associated Press 2.10.19

Journalists from a Vermont student newspaper are being recognized by the New England First Amendment Coalition for breaking a story about their guidance director who faced state disciplinary charges. The students from The Register at Burlington High School used public records last year to write the story, but they were ordered to take the story down after the school principal demanded they do so. The students took down the story, but began a campaign to fight censorship.

Newspaper Honored for Sandy Hook Shooting Records Quest | Associated Press 2.10.19

The Courant will be honored at a Friday awards luncheon for its successful efforts to obtain information related to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty first-graders and six teachers were killed. NEFAC executive director Justin Silverman says the newspaper brought to light details about shooter Adam Lanza that had been hidden in documents that state police kept secret.

Appeals Court Orders Release Of Jurors’ Names And Addresses | WBUR 2.6.19

Stearns had characterized the 1st Circuit’s rules as antiquated in the face of “a less innocent and more threatening age.” But Pyle and The New England First Amendment Coalition, which entered the case as amicus (“a friend of the court”) in support of WBUR, reported they could find no instances of jurors ever being adversely affected by having their names and addresses released by the court after trials had ended.

Fall River Mayor Took Wrong Cue with ‘Fake News’ Attack | The Providence Journal 2.4.19

“Public officials forfeit their right to complain about reporting when they hold a so-called news conference and refuse to answer questions,” said Tim White, a WPRI-12 investigative reporter and a member of the New England First Amendment Coalition board. “The mayor would serve himself and the people of Fall River better if he spent his energy being transparent, instead of creating a website that perpetuates the president’s attacks on journalism. Elected officials who lash out at reporters simply because they are unhappy with news coverage need to understand they are also attacking access to information that the people they represent have a right to know.” New England First Amendment Coalition Executive Director Justin Silverman said “fake news” is a loaded term — one used not to call out inaccurate reporting but to delegitimize journalism. “Newsrooms make mistakes and should be accountable when they do,” Silverman said. “It would have been entirely appropriate for Correia to discuss with the Herald News his concerns about the story and attempt to correct the record if it needed to be corrected. But he resorted to crying ‘fake news’ and attacking a journalist for doing her job. That doesn’t advance the truth. That doesn’t help the public get a better understanding of the story. That’s just spite toward the one reporting it.”

Video Shows Woman Hitting Cameras of Reporters; Expert Says, ‘No Excuse’ | Burlington Free Press 2.1.19

“We all have a right to stand on a sidewalk peacefully and record what’s going on in our public streets, whether we’re a journalist or not,” said Justin Silverman, the Executive Director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “No one should be able to interfere with that.” … “I think the general sentiment against journalists is concerning,” Silverman said. “I think that there can be a real lack of understanding about how valuable the job of a journalist is and the public service it provides community.”

Free-Press Advocates Slam Ban on Coverage of BLM Flag Raising | WFFF-Burlington 2.1.19

Students plan to raise a Black Lives Matter flag at the outdoor event. But after publicizing the ceremony in a two-page press release, the school announced that members of the public — including reporters — would be restricted to an area across a busy road from the high school. On Friday, the New England First Amendment Coalition called on officials at South Burlington High to allow the news media access to the ceremony.

Courant Wins Top New England FOI Award | Hartford Courant 2.1.19

The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor the Courant with its 2019 Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award. The award is presented annually to New England journalists who protect or advance the public’s right to know under federal or state law.

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Media Access to Jurors | Providence Journal 1.22.19

New England First Amendment Coalition hailed the ruling as a victory. “Being able to interview jurors about public trials is essential for good government,” said Justin Silverman, the organization’s executive director. “The public needs the opportunity to better understand these cases whether the verdict is guilty, not guilty or it’s a hung jury.”

Condos: Cops Shouldn’t Charge Vermonters to View Body Camera Footage | Seven Days 1.22.19

The Vermont Journalism Trust, Vermont Press Association and the New England First Amendment Coalition will be filing briefs in support of Doyle later this week, the ACLU said in a Tuesday press release.

ACLU Has ‘Friends’ in its Fight to View Burlington Police Bodycam Footage | VTDigger 1.22.19

In addition, the The Vermont Journalism Trust, Vermont Press Association, and the New England First Amendment Coalition will be filing an amicus brief later this week. The Vermont Journalism Trust is VTDigger’s parent organization.

Publisher Joins Media Group In Opposing Courtroom Registration | Caledonian Record 1.19.19

Caledonian-Record publisher Todd Smith endorsed a letter from the New England First Amendment Coalition citing opposition to proposed rules that would limit the public’s ability to record Vermont judicial proceedings and require journalists to register with the state before using cameras in courtrooms.

NEFAC Presents to Canadian Delegation, Expands First Amendment Education Program | InDepth NH 1.17.19

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently presented to a delegation of Canadian public officials interested in learning about U.S. constitutional law and civil liberties. “It was a great opportunity to share with those outside our borders the value of the First Amendment and why it is so important to this country,” said Gregory V. Sullivan, a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors who spoke to the visiting group Jan. 15 at the Boston Foundation in Boston.

Open Court: NEFAC Comments on Media Registration and Recording in Court | Caledonian Record 1.16.19

In summary, we believe these changes are unnecessary as state courts already have adequate tools at their disposal to protect the privacy interests of witnesses and jurors. We are also uncomfortable with the court enforcing a registration process for journalists and defining who is and is not a member of the professional media — a definition that is drawn too narrowly and neglects the interests of academics, students and other researchers.

Taxpayer Cost of LePage’s Stay at Trump Hotel to Finally Be Released? | Portland Press Herald 1.7.19

“Right now the FOAA is a toothless thing that doesn’t impose any significant penalties,” says media law attorney Sigmund Schutz, who sits on the board of the New England First Amendment Coalition and represents the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in public records issues. “It was designed for a more innocent time perhaps when you had state agencies responding to and prioritizing public records requests.”