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 written about us during the current year. Coverage from previous years can be seen here: 2016201520142013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Protect & Serve Report | Caledonian Record 8.15.17

“This is basic information we are entitled to under the law,” Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition noted in our news story on Saturday. “We have a right to know about crimes in our communities and should demand transparency whenever possible. Insisting on secrecy not only violates the principles of open government, but it erodes the trust of the communities those officers serve.”

Many States Avoid the AG in Prosecuting Public Record Violations | RI Future 8.15.17

Many states don’t use their attorney general to enforce state public records laws, according to a spreadsheet created by the New England First Amendment Coalition. While 20 states, including Rhode Island, rely on the attorney general, the majority do not.

Open Government Advocates Call For More Police Information, Not Less | Caledonian Record 8.12.17

“Our police should be disclosing more information, not less,” said Justin Silverman, Executive Director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “It’s not just public safety that’s at stake, but the accountability of our law enforcement. We can’t know if police are doing their job if we don’t know what happened, where it happened and who was involved.” . . . “This is basic information we are entitled to under the law,” said Silverman. “We have a right to know about crimes in our communities and should demand transparency whenever possible. Insisting on secrecy not only violates the principles of open government, but it erodes the trust of the communities those officers serve.”

National Media Join First Amendment Fight Over Access to Court Records | Courthouse News Service 7.13.17

Media advocacy groups signing the amicus brief include the First Amendment Coalition, New England First Amendment Coalition, and the Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University.

NEFAC’s Robert Bertsche Discusses Trump Tweets, Relationship with Press (audio) | WPRO 7.5.17

The 2017 New England Muzzle Awards: Spotlighting 10 Who Diminish Free Speech | WGBH 7.3.17

Kilmartin, playing to the cheap seats, responded by saying “it is a disgrace that the Governor would put the interests of Hollywood elites before that of Rhode Island victims of this horrendous crime that has lifelong impact.” But as Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of Rhode Island, put it in an emailed comment, “These elites apparently include the ACLU, the RI Press Association, the New England First Amendment Coalition, and the Media Coalition, all of  whom testified against his bill and in favor of hers. He would rather pass a bill that will end up providing no protection to victims because it will be struck down rather than agree to a ‘watered down’ constitutional one.”

Local Police See Varying Levels of Information Access | The Enterprise 6.25.17

Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said the trend should be toward more openness, not less, among government organizations like school districts and inspection services, and that’s even more important for police departments in situations involving public safety. “There’s a presumption of openness in this state, and any time a police department can inform the community and provides more information about something, that’s a good thing,” said Silverman. “Police departments that are providing more info than what’s required, kudos to them and they should be recognized and serve as a model to other departments that are more tight-lipped.”

Experts: West Bridgewater Police Erred in Handling of Police Report | The Enterprise 6.25.17

“We have the right to know who’s accused of crimes in our communities and whether police are acting appropriately,” said Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. “When a major car accident occurs on a public street and the driver is accused of fleeing the scene, we need to know who was involved and how law enforcement responded. This is the type of oversight our public records law provides. Without basic information like the names of those involved in the crash, it’s impossible to fully understand what happened and why.”

A Fight of Supreme Importance | Caledonian Record 6.7.17

“All Vermonters who want to get to the information would need evidence and you can imagine just how difficult that would be,” said Cornell. The New England First Amendment Coalition and the Vermont Press Association joined us and VTDigger in the fight.

Legal Adversary Says Donovan Raising Hurdles to Transparency | VTDigger 5.30.17

Attorney Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, suggested the attorney general’s concerns about privacy might undermine the public’s right to know.

Attorney General Weighs in on Public Records Case | VTDigger 5.19.17

“We welcome the attorney general’s position that private email and text messaging accounts can be searched under the Public Records Act,” said attorney Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. Silverman said it is still concerning that the attorney general is questioning how such searches can occur, the answer to which could have serious consequences for the public’s right to know. . . . Silverman said that reasoning places a burden on the party requesting records that isn’t contemplated by the Public Records Act, and which could be used to deny access to records that would be public were they not located on private accounts. “If a request needs to meet a certain standard before private accounts can be searched, the requester certainly shouldn’t be required to put the cart before the horse and first provide proof the records exist,” he said.

Judge Denies Release of 38 Studios Secret Grand Jury Records | WJAR-Providence 5.19.17

Access RI, the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the New England First Amendment Coalition wanted the details related to the probe released saying there is “extraordinarily strong public interest” in the grand jury process. And now they are disappointed, said Justin Silverman with the New England First Amendment Coalition. “The decision is incredibly disappointing and a blow to the public’s right to know in Rhode Island.” Silverman said. “We had hoped for more transparency about 38 Studios but instead we’re just facing more secrecy, more of the same.”

VTDigger, Newspapers and First Amendment Group Back Appeal of Private Email Ruling | VTDigger 5.12.17

VTDigger is filing the amicus brief in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Vermont. Other news outlets and transparency groups have signed on, including the New England First Amendment Coalition, the Caledonian Record, Seven Days and the Vermont Press Association.

Vermont Ends Delay on Public Release of Lawsuit Documents | VTDigger 4.25.17

The New England First Amendment Coalition celebrated the state’s order in a news release Tuesday. “This is a win for open government. Vermonters have a right to know about lawsuits filed in their courts and to have timely access to those documents,” said the group’s executive director, Justin Silver, in a statement.

NEFAC Applauds Vermont Decision to Make Lawsuit Filings Immediately Available | Caledonian Record 4.25.17

“The old provision of secret files, even when there had been a hearing, is just one of several outdated policies,” said Michael Donoghue, NEFAC’s vice president and a former Burlington Free Press staff writer. “Our coalition urged the Vermont Attorney General’s Office not to waste tax dollars trying to defend this policy when Vermont was the only state doing it this way.”

NH ‘Ballot Selfies’ Remain Legal as U.S. Supreme Court Declines Review | ACLU 4.3.17

In this case, Snapchat, Inc., the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the New England First Amendment Coalition, and the Keene Sentinel all filed amicus briefs in support of the ACLU-NH’s position that this ban is unconstitutional.

NEFAC’s Justin Silverman Discussing First Amendment, Journalism (audio) | WPRO 3.25.17

Celebrating Your Right to Know at Nashua Gathering | InDepthNH 3.17.17

The right-to-know evening at the Hunt Memorial Building was co-sponsored by The Telegraph of Nashua, InDepthNH.org and the New England First Amendment Coalition.

Local Lawyer Leads New England First Amendment Coalition | Community Advocate 3.13.17

Silverman joined the NEFAC board in 2010, and became its executive director in 2014. “NEFAC is an advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know. We seek to educate everyone — journalists and non-journalists alike — about their rights under the First Amendment. Much of our work is for the benefit of journalists because they are often the ones using freedom of information laws to obtain records and educate communities. “But we provide resources to everyone,” he added. “We’re most concerned about threats to the press, free speech and the public’s right to know.”

Attacks on the Media Only Making Them Stronger | Roger Williams University 3.5.17

Jon Keller, political analyst for WBZ-TV, welcomed people to the New England First Amendment Coalition awards ceremony on Feb. 24 in Boston, saying: “Ladies, gentlemen, fellow enemies of the people — glad you could make it out today.” Far from intimidating journalists with his attacks from the bully pulpit, President Donald J. Trump has lit a fire in the belly of the news industry. And ironically, his attempts to weaken the nation’s media could end up making them stronger.

Exercising First Amendment Rights is a Team Sport | Roger Williams University 3.1.17

At a New England First Amendment Coalition event on Feb. 24, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan began her keynote address by thanking the many journalism students in attendance, including eight students from Roger Williams University. “I admire the fact that you are making the foray into our somewhat treacherous waters at this particular time,” Sullivan said. “We need you more than ever.”

Recipients Call for Relentless Pursuit, Defense of the Truth | NENPA 2.26.17

With new threats to the First Amendment, journalism’s role is more important than ever, Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for The Washington Post, told those attending the seventh annual New England First Amendment Coalition awards luncheon Friday, Feb. 24, in Boston.

A Change of Heart on White House Leaks | The Westerly Sun 2.27.17

NEFAC’s Justin Silverman said, “Once the public has lost faith in the Fourth Estate, there is nothing to separate fact from fiction, truth from propaganda. Yes, we need to demand high standards and integrity from our press corps. But at the same time, we need to discard hollow accusations of ‘fake news’ and petty grievances with coverage. There’s too much at stake to consider every critical news story as the work of dishonest politically driven reporters.”

Rants and Raves (video) | Beat the Press 2.24.17

Northeastern University professor Dan Kennedy discusses 2017 New England First Amendment Awards honoree Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post.

TGIF: 21 Things To Know About Rhode Island Politics & Media | RI Public Radio 2.24.17

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said, ‘President Trump’s continued attacks on the media undermine the value of journalism in our country. A reporter’s job isn’t to pat the president on the back, but to instead pursue the truth, regardless of how it reflects on an administration. As the saying goes, democracy dies in darkness. Trump seems intent on discrediting the very people we rely on to shine light in those dark corners of government.’

Sun Journal receives First Amendment Award | Sun Journal 2.25.17

The Sun Journal was awarded the Michael Donoghue First Amendment Award by the New England First Amendment Coalition on Friday. The award was given to the Lewiston newspaper during the annual New England Newspaper and Press Association convention. The freedom of information award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work that protects or advances the public’s right to access information possessed by federal and state governments.

Margaret Sullivan Receives First Amendment Award | The Boston Globe 2.24.17

The New England First Amendment Coalition presented its top honor to Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for The Washington Post. Sullivan accepted the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award on Friday before a large crowd of journalists, lawyers, educators, students, and media executives at NEFAC’s annual awards luncheon at the Marriott Long Wharf.

Why The Role Of The Press Matters | WBZ-Boston 2.24.17

On Friday I’ll be emceeing the annual New England First Amendment Awards on behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition, a group of citizens who, according to their mission statement, “believe in the power of transparency in a democratic society,” and they work with others to preserve and promote access to public meetings and documents and proper compliance with freedom of information laws. It’s an honor for me to be involved with this event because I strongly believe that the news media, whatever its failings, provides an essential service to our country, most notably skeptical oversight of what people with power are doing.

Trump Stoops to New Low with Denigration of Media | Southern Rhode Island Newspapers 2.24.17

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said, “President Trump’s continued attacks on the media undermine the value of journalism in our country. A reporter’s job isn’t to pat the president on the back, but to instead pursue the truth, regardless of how it reflects on an administration. As the saying goes, democracy dies in darkness. Trump seems intent on discrediting the very people we rely on to shine light in those dark corners of government.” Silverman said, “Once the public has lost faith in the Fourth Estate, there is nothing to separate fact from fiction, truth from propaganda. Yes, we need to demand high standards and integrity from our press corps. But at the same time, we need to discard hollow accusations of ‘fake news’ and petty grievances with coverage. There’s too much at stake to consider every critical news story as the work of dishonest politically driven reporters.”

Trump at CPAC, a Political Oscar Show, and Eliminating Plastic Straws | The Boston Globe 2.24.17

The New England First Amendment Coalition hands out its annual awards at a 12:30 luncheon at the Marriott Long Wharf; Trump’s attacks on the media are sure to be front and center.

Let the Sun In | Concord Monitor 2.22.17

In recognition of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote open government, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and New England First Amendment Coalition will present a discussion concerning New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law. “The Right to Know in New Hampshire, in Theory and Practice” will be held at the Loeb School, 749 E. Industrial Park Drive in Manchester on March 13 at 7 p.m.

Panel to Discuss Right-to-Know Law at Loeb School | Union Leader 2.20.17

The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and New England First Amendment Coalition will present a discussion next month on New Hampshire’s Right-to-Know Law.

RI Attorney General Says 38 Studios Criminal Investigation Closed | WJAR 2.3.17

The move comes afterGov. Gina Raimondo, several lawmakers — including House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello — and five groups that promote open government asked the attorney general and the state police to release documents relating to the 38 Studios investigation. Access RI, the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and the New England First Amendment Coalition requested to review the documents related to the probe.

Vermont Introduces New Voices Legislation, Hears Testimony in Committee Meeting | SPLC 1.17.17

“Previously, the same senator, Sen. Jeanette White, proposed similar legislation and I think the problem was there was not as much of an organized effort,” Evans said. “The key thing is to bring more voices into the conversation.” These voices include student, law, education, journalism and civic advocates as well as the formal support of the Vermont Press Association, the Vermont Journalism Education Association and the New England First Amendment Coalition.

Should Unsolicited Newspapers and Flyers Be Banned in Massachusetts? | WWLP 22 News 1.4.17

There’s a method to the madness in putting papers and flyers in peoples driveways. It’s a marketing method that’s been used for decades but for homeowners it can also be a headache. However, there’s also groups like the New England First Amendment Coalition that said it would restrict free speech and block the delivery of free newspapers.

Free-Speech Concerns Delay Ordinance Hearing on Newspaper Deliveries | Providence Journal 1.3.17

A hearing on a proposed ordinance to address “Mass Outdoor Deliveries” to residents was continued Tuesday by the City Council’s Ordinance Committee so First Amendment issues could be addressed. Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan said she and other members of the ordinance panel are working with legal counsel to tune the ordinance in a way that addresses concerns raised by The Providence Journal and by freedom of speech advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island and the New England First Amendment Coalition.