NEFAC REPORT | July 2019
“Despite improvements to the public records statute in 2016, Massachusetts continues to lag behind most of the country in government transparency,” wrote the New England First Amendment Coalition, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and the New England Newspaper & Press Association in a July 18 joint letter to state legislators.

“With the passage of House Bill 2120, Massachusetts would become even more of an outlier,” they wrote. [...]

Additional Coverage

The New England First Amendment Coalition helped commence the 21st annual Open Government Summit on July 19, providing remarks on the value of transparency and the importance of the public’s right to know.

The summit at Roger Williams University Law School featured presentations on the Access to Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Act. The Office of the Attorney General provides the summit each year. Those who attend the public event are typically municipal or state employees, and attorneys. [...]

The New England First Amendment Coalition provides the tuition-free, three-day investigative journalism institute each year for 25 working journalists within the region. It includes workshops and presentations featuring some of the country’s most elite investigative reporters, editors and media attorneys.

This ninth annual institute will be held from Sept. 22-24 at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. [...]

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently expressed concern about legislation intended to prevent vexatious filings of Open Meeting Law complaints in Massachusetts.

Bills H.2740 and S.1899 would restructure the current review process of complaints, cap the number of complaints a citizen can file each year at five, and allow public bodies to refer all complaints found “unduly burdensome” to the Office of Attorney General. [...]

It is a fact of life that the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) often fail to respond to public records requests. And when they do, appeals often ensue, the overwhelming majority of which they lose. No surprise there.

But I recently encountered something that knocked my argyle socks off. [...]


NEFAC's First Amendment Conversation Series Rolls Through Southern New England
NEFAC offers discussions on journalism and the First Amendment as part of its Featured Speaker Program, launched in January 2018 to help increase First Amendment education in high schools, college classrooms and community centers.

Since that time, the coalition has provided more than 40 public presentations and First Amendment programs to hundreds of citizens, most recently in Dartmouth, Shrewsbury and Sharon, Mass.; and in Providence and Cranston, R.I. Support this program at .

Radically Rural, the annual two-day summit focused on issues and opportunities in small cities and towns, opens Sept. 19 and is expected to attract 800 people from the Monadnock Region, the Northeast and throughout the country.

The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and The Keene Sentinel partner to present Radically Rural, which provides a uniquely rural point-of-view for community-building, news coverage, entrepreneurship and economic development. Radically Rural includes program tracks on entrepreneurship, arts and culture, community journalism, Main Streets and downtowns, working lands and renewable energy. [...] 


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