NEFAC REPORT | January 2020
Feb. 7 | 12:30 - 2 p.m. | Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel
Sulzberger is the principal steward of the editorial independence and ambition of Times journalism. He was a reporter at The Providence Journal and The Oregonian before joining The Times’s Metro desk in 2009. [...]
Hearst Connecticut spent more than six months digging through 1,600 pages of public documents and filing more than 100 public record requests to investigate abuse allegations connected to the Boys & Girls Clubs. [...]
The students filed a federal lawsuit against Rhode Island state officials — including the governor, legislative leaders and the education commissioner — arguing that the state is failing to provide sufficient civics education. [...]

NEFAC opposes a New Hampshire bill that would require newsrooms to update certain stories about criminal proceedings at the request of those charged with crimes.

“The legislation is unwise, undemocratic and unconstitutional,” wrote Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director in a Jan. 15 letter to state lawmakers. “The bill is a violation of the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the New Hampshire and United States constitutions.” [...]

Additional Coverage

NEFAC and other advocates asked the U.S. Senate today to reconsider press restrictions during the impeachment trial of President Trump.

“Absent an articulable security rationale,” wrote the groups in a Jan. 16 letter drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Senate leaders and security officials “have an obligation to preserve and promote the public’s right to know.” [...]

Additional Coverage

NEFAC 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, but legislators are now considering a change to the law. [...]

Additional Coverage

The start of the new year provides an opportunity to reflect and set out our intentions for the months ahead.

This year, I am asking all legislators to join me in committing to protect and expand access for Vermonters who are seeking access to public records.

The bottom line is: open government is good government! [...]
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the state’s “fair report” privilege earlier this week confirming that news organizations can fairly and accurately report certain types of governmental action without being liable for claims arising out of those reports.

NEFAC, GateHouse Media, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the Associated Press and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed an amicus brief last September. [...]

Additional Coverage

NEFAC recently demanded that the press pass of a White House reporter be restored after it was revoked without meaningful due process.

“The Constitution recognizes that a free press is necessary to keeping the public informed about government activity and protects the right of the press to gather and publish the news,” wrote NEFAC and other advocates in a Jan. 13 amicus brief drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. [...]
Warning of the dangers that would follow should the lawsuit be upheld, the New England First Amendment Coalition, joined by the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, among others, stated in an amicus brief that “Massachusetts journalists will no longer be able to report information contained in police blotters, a reliable and frequent source for news coverage about something that is of the utmost public importance — crime. [...]

Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said it would be “simply inexcusable” for public officials to attempt to abuse the public records law and its exemptions. “Falsely claiming an investigation is ongoing as a way to keep records secret violates the law and our trust in public officials,” he said. “When officials abuse the investigatory exemption of the public records law, they prevent us from learning if justice is being served in our communities.” [...]
Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, called the governor's proposal "excessive." "Sealing off these records for such a long period of time doesn't seem to be in the public's interest," he said. "Access to these records is important, and the state shouldn't be restricting it." [...]
Justin Silverman is an attorney based out of Massachusetts and the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. Silverman said the public needs to know why and how a police officer is involved in a crash. He said there may be some parts of the investigation that are exempt from being public, but not all of it. “You have a police officer who was found to be at fault for the crash. All the more reason that we should have details about the investigation to make sure that police officer was held accountable as any other citizen would be if they were involved in a similar crash,” he said. [...]
Baker’s proposal doesn’t seek to specifically change public records statute, but “we’re dealing with withholding individual certificates and records, which relative to that ruling, strikes me as even more concerning,” said Justin Silverman, the executive director of NEFAC. “There certainly are privacy considerations, but I would rather see those considerations made on a case-by-case basis rather than have a law that wholesale exempts all of these records from disclosure," he said. Plus, he added, "Why do it now?” [...]

White House, Press Relations



Hate Speech, Criminal Prosecution

Anonymous Speech




Carter Texting Case

Secret Recordings of Public Officials



Right-to-Know Law Legislation

Symbolic Speech, Flag Burning