New England First Amendment Coalition
March 2021
Named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, the Hamblett Award is given each year to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment throughout his or her career.

“Alcindor has been a steadfast advocate for the First Amendment,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “Despite attacks by former President Trump on the press, and against her personally, Alcindor’s coverage of the White House was fearless and unflinching. It stands as a model for all journalists working in hostile situations.” [...]
According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, at least 85 journalists have received subpoenas since 2017. Just this year, Vermont television station WCAX received a subpoena from prosecutors demanding unaired footage from an interview.

For an increasing number of New England newsrooms without regular access to attorneys, these legal orders can be intimidating and infringe on their rights. By viewing this class, taught by attorney Matt Byrne at Gravel & Shea, you will learn about:

• The history of subpoenas and their legal authority.
• Arguments and strategies that can be made in response to a subpoena.
• How to advocate for yourself and newsroom when in court.
David Dahl at The Boston Globe discusses the Fresh Start initiative, an attempt to reevaluate the newsworthiness of old stories and weigh the effect those stories have on an individual’s reputation versus the value they serve by remaining online.

The New England First Amendment Coalition is pleased to announce two additions to its Board of Directors: Judy Meyer, executive editor of the Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel; and Lisa Strattan, vice president of news for Gannett New England.
“We are thrilled to have Judy and Lisa join our Board of Directors,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “Their experience and expertise will help strengthen our advocacy in Maine and throughout all New England states.” [...]
The goal of Sunshine Week — March 14-20 this year with related events occurring throughout the month — is to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

Gilles Bissonnette | Legal Director for the ACLU of New Hampshire
The Hon. N. William Delker | New Hampshire Superior Court Justice
Casey McDermott (moderator) | Reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio
Emily Gray Rice | City Solicitor for the City of Manchester, New Hampshire
Gregory V. Sullivan | First Amendment Attorney at Malloy & Sullivan

Peter Caruso, Sr. | NEFAC, Media Attorney at Caruso & Caruso LLP
Kay Lazar | Reporter at The Boston Globe
Morgan C. Mullings | Report for America, Reporter at The Bay State Banner
Charles Sennott (moderator) | The GroundTruth Project, Report for America
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos writes that confidence in our public institutions is needed now more than ever. The misinformation surrounding the recent election has further eroded faith in government and our civic processes. The best way to combat this is through transparency. [...]
NEFAC Leads Sunshine Week Conversation with Emerson College Journalism Students
The coalition provides educators throughout the region with expert speakers for in-person and virtual classes. NEFAC works with teachers of all levels to develop presentations addressing civics, journalism and other aspects of democracy and the First Amendment.
Karina Cuevas, a producer at Telemundo in Boston, and Kevin Adrade, a freelancer based in Providence, describe their work at NAHJ’s New England chapter and explain the most pressing issues facing Latino journalists in the region.

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently argued to the Vermont Supreme Court that private entities performing essential government services are subject to the state’s public records law.

Courts throughout the country apply their state’s public records statutes to certain private entities, explained NEFAC and other advocates in a March 22 amicus brief drafted by the ACLU Foundation of Vermont. [...]

Additional Coverage

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently testified against a New Hampshire bill that would require news organizations to publish updates to certain stories and limit the use of mugshots in reporting.

House Bill 584 — similar to failed legislation in New Hampshire and Rhode Island last year — is “blatantly unconstitutional,” explained attorney and NEFAC Executive Committee member Gregory V. Sullivan. [...]
Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, recently presented to the Boston Bar Association as part of its Friday Fundamentals program. Silverman provided a lecture on First Amendment law, giving an overview of how it works and its scope of protection. [...]
NEFAC regularly provides presentations on journalism, freedom of information, civics and other aspects of the First Amendment. Please email to discuss how the coalition can help you and your organization.
Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said that while he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the law, he had concerns that criminal charges were brought against Frischling for photos that he said any member of the public could have easily taken. [...]
“There’s no question this bill is unconstitutional,” Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, said.

Silverman said it is understandable why people might have an issue with newsrooms doing an incomplete job. The correct way to deal with that, he said, is to talk to editors and reporters to convince them to put a higher priority on making sure the outcomes of cases are given enough attention.

The bottom line, though, is that it is a news organization’s prerogative to make those decisions, not the government’s, Silverman said. [...]

Regional / National

Biden Administration, Press

Defamation, Election 2020



Newsgathering, Privacy



Court Records



New Hampshire

Rhode Island