2020 New England First Amendment Awards | NEFAC honored A. G. Sulzberger of The New York Times with its Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. Hearst Connecticut Media Group received the coalition’s Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award. The Cook v. Raimondo student activists received the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. Learn more about the program and view photos of attendees here.


NEFAC Opposes Fees to Inspect Records in Vermont, Touts Benefits of Transparency | The The New England First Amendment Coalition recently testified against efforts in Vermont to charge fees for the inspection of public records. A Vermont Supreme Court decision last year held that citizens are able to inspect records free of charge under the state’s public records law, but legislators are now considering a change to the law that would allow fees.


First Amendment and the Free Press: A Community Conversation Series in Saugus, Mass. | NEFAC launched the series in 2018 to help increase civics education in schools, college classrooms and community centers. Watch a discussion featuring NEFAC’s Maggie Mulvihill, an investigative journalist and professor at Boston University; media attorney Peter Caruso, Sr.; and Richard Lodge, editor of The Daily News of Newburyport.


Rhode Island Open Government Summit | NEFAC’s Karen Bordeleau and Edward Fitzpatrick provided opening remarks at the Attorney General’s 2019 Open Government Summit. Bordeleau and Fitzpatrick emphasized the need for transparency within Rhode Island communities and encouraged municipal employees to prioritize the public’s right to know about local government. Watch the full summit here (NEFAC’s presentation begins at 00:11:06).


First Amendment and the Free Press: A Community Conversation Series in Shrewsbury, Mass. | NEFAC launched the series in 2018 to help increase civics education in schools, college classrooms and community centers. Watch a discussion featuring NEFAC’s Jonathan Albano, Anne Brennan of Gatehouse Media, Leah Lamson of the New England High School Journalism Collaborative, and Susan Spencer of the Telegram & Gazette.


When Muskets Defended the Editorial Page | Much has changed in the national discourse since a pro-war rabble two centuries ago. But while legal and conventional structures have been erected to protect a robust free press, the baying mob hasn’t exactly gone away, according to Justin Silverman, executive director of NEFAC, and Rep. Josh Cutler of Duxbury, author of the new book Mobtown Massacre. Listen here.


First Amendment and the Free Press: A Community Conversation Series in Dartmouth, Mass. | NEFAC launched the series in 2018 to help increase civics education in schools, college classrooms and community centers. Watch a discussion featuring NEFAC President Karen Bordeleau, former Hearst Connecticut editor Barbara Roessner, NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman and Edward Fitzpatrick of The Boston Globe.


Rhode Island FOI Laws | In recognition of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote open government, NEFAC and several local organizations presented a panel discussion on Rhode Island’s freedom of information laws. Speakers included Edward Fitzpatrick, formerly of The Providence Journal; Dan McGowan of WPRI-Providence; Amanda Milkovits, reporter for The Providence Journal; and Ethan Shorey, editor at the Valley Breeze. Video here.


Future of the First Amendment | As part of their Free Speech Week celebration in 2018, NEFAC and a group of constitutional advocates and media organizations hosted a panel discussion to explore the future of the First Amendment. Free Speech Week is a national campaign to increase awareness of free speech and its value in a democracy. Individuals, schools and organizations host events to highlight the importance of the First Amendment.


Constitution Week | NEFAC presented a discussion about the First Amendment at Framingham State University. Speakers included Jonathan Albano, Esq.; John Ambacher, a professor emeritus at FSU; and Jennifer Peter, the managing editor for The Boston Globe. Anne Brennan, the regional director of news and operations for the MetroWest Daily News, the Milford Daily and 20 Gatehouse Media-owned weekly newspapers, moderated.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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 within 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.