NEFAC Sponsors Free Media Hotline for Journalists Covering COVID-19 Pandemic

Law Firm Prince Lobel Tye Providing Pro Bono Help with Government Access Challenges

New England Journalists: Direct All Inquiries to ACCESS@PrinceLobel.com or Call 1.888.428.7490

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

NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman discusses the hotline and current access issues with Prince Lobel attorney Jeff Pyle

The New England First Amendment Coalition is supporting a free legal hotline open to all news media in the region — print, broadcast, audio, video and online — seeking help obtaining access to public records, government meetings and public spaces during the COVID-19 crisis.

Prince Lobel Tye, a Boston media law firm, is operating the hotline pro bono.

“The COVID-19 epidemic has brought out the best and the worst in government transparency,” said Robert A. Bertsche, a partner at Prince Lobel and a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors.

“On one hand, many governors and local officials are providing timely, important updates and public health information. On the other hand, agencies are suspending or delaying public records compliance, and government agencies may be doing public business without essential public input,” Bertsche said.

Prince Lobel attorneys will staff the hotline and provide timely, brief and practical advice in response to access questions. When appropriate, Prince Lobel will refer callers to other media lawyers throughout the six New England states to make sure reporters throughout the region get the help they need.

NEFAC’s support of the hotline is the latest example of how the coalition is helping to protect the press and the public’s right to know during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition’s efforts include:

Writing an op/ed for The Boston Globe that spotlighted the increasing secrecy within all levels of government.
Expressing concern over Rhode Island’s decision to suspend the state’s open meeting law.
Joining more than 100 open government advocates to demand transparency and opportunities for public oversight during the health crisis.
Reminding New England governors that news organizations are essential businesses and should be allowed to operate during state-wide lock-downs.
Calling on Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo to provide more access to journalists covering her daily briefings on the pandemic.

NEFAC commends all journalists for the excellent job they are doing given the challenging circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic presents. Our coalition wants to be a resource for you: What specific challenges are you facing and what needs do you currently have? Please email NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman at justin@nefac.org.


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. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, WBUR, Boston University and the Robertson Foundation.

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