New England First Amendment Coalition
January 2021
The goal of the program is to provide reporters and other citizens knowledge they can use immediately in newsgathering, data collection, storytelling and other areas of journalism and First Amendment law.

The lessons will be provided in a 30-minute format to accommodate the demanding schedules faced by many working in New England newsrooms.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration for each lesson is required. [...]
Miss our first 30 Minute Skills class? Watch now.

Data Cleaning 101

This lesson is an introduction to cleaning datasets obtained online or through public records requests and is instructed by NEFAC’s Maggie Mulvihill, a professor at Boston University.

By completing this lesson, you will: (1) understand what data cleaning is and why it’s necessary (2) learn about the free tools available to help clean data and (3) begin building your data cleaning skills.
The New England First Amendment Coalition testified on Jan. 19 about proposed legislation in New Hampshire that could severely limit the public’s right to access police records.

Senate Bill 39 intends to exempt police personnel files, internal investigations and other law enforcement records from the New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law.
NEFAC and other advocates followed up this testimony with a joint letter on Jan. 25 opposing an amendment to SB 39 that the groups called “problematic” and “harmful to government transparency.” Read that letter here. Learn more about how NEFAC is helping to improve police accountability here.
Austin Kocher, a research assistant professor at Syracuse University’s Transactional Research Access Clearinghouse and FOIA Project, discusses a recent report describing trends during the last 20 years of media lawsuits under the federal statute.

NEFAC's Justin Silverman dispels several First Amendment misconceptions following the decision by Twitter and Facebook to suspend President Trump’s accounts. He explains to WMTW-Portland where the First Amendment lines are drawn with respect to private companies and the advocacy of unlawful activity.
The New England First Amendment Coalition called on Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to resume full press briefings and allow direct questioning from journalists.

The governor has not made herself available for questioning from journalists since being nominated last month for Commerce Secretary in President-Elect Joseph Biden’s Administration.

“While your nomination to President-Elect Biden’s Cabinet is a great honor that carries with it certain responsibilities, these must not be prioritized over your duties as governor,” according to a Jan. 19 letter from NEFAC to Governor Raimondo. [...]

Additional Coverage

Shannon Jankowski, E.W. Scripps Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, discusses the freedom to record police in the First Circuit and what implications a recent decision has on the public’s right to document government activity. NEFAC and other organizations filed an amicus brief in the case in 2019.

Additional Coverage


NEFAC Provides Database Analysis Training to Hearst Connecticut Media Group Newsrooms
The New England First Amendment Coalition this month provided an exclusive newsroom training program for Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

Please email to discuss the needs of your respective newsroom and how our coalition can help.
Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said there is good reason for the government declining to define what constitutes a work of art. “We, as a people, should be debating and discussing what art is and not looking to the government to decide that. Once you have a government making the distinction between what is art and what isn’t, you’ve given the government the power to censor expression. That’s something the First Amendment is against,” he said. [...]

Regional / National

Public Officials, Social Media

COVID-19, Transparency





New Hampshire

Right to Protest


Rhode Island