NEFAC REPORT | November 2018
NEFAC announced in January the launching of its First Amendment conversation series, an ambitious effort to educate the region about our civil liberties and the value of journalism.

Our goal at the time — and still now — is to help every community in New England learn more about the freedoms we cherish and how to protect them. More than one-third of all Americans can’t name a single liberty provided to us by the First Amendment and we aim to change that distressing statistic for the better.

We asked for your help and support — and you delivered.
But there remains a hunger for civics and legal education throughout the region and we are just beginning to meet this need. We want to double our efforts next year and visit 50 sites from Bangor to Bridgeport, Manchester to Montpelier, Provincetown to Pawtucket.

We now have momentum. Will you help us keep it by donating today?
New England First Amendment Coalition President Karen Bordeleau recently presented the keynote address at the annual Massachusetts Broadcasters Association Sound Bites Awards.

She used the occasion to call on all journalists to work together — despite competitive interests — to protect the First Amendment and demand government transparency.

“Wouldn’t it be something if when one of your newsrooms gets shut out of a meeting or denied public records that all the other newsrooms come to your defense by reporting on it?,” Bordeleau said at the Nov. 14 event. [...]
NEFAC will honor on Feb. 15 in Boston individuals who have promoted and defended the First Amendment throughout the region. Learn more about the awards luncheon, purchase tickets and nominate award recipients  here .

Stephen Engelberg, an investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of ProPublica, will receive the New England First Amendment Coalition‘s 2019 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. 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. [...]

The award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference is given to those who overcome significant official resistance. [...] [ Nomination Materials ]

The award is given to an individual from one of the New England states who has fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or what its government is doing — or not doing — on its behalf. The candidate should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty while obtaining information that the public has a right to know. [...] [ Nomination Materials ] 
Following a contentious press conference on Wednesday, the Trump Administration revoked the press credential of CNN reporter Jim Acosta — an unprecedented move the New England First Amendment Coalition considers unconstitutional, a threat to all journalists covering the White House and an infringement on the public’s right to know about its government. [...]

Additional Coverage

The New England First Amendment Coalition called on Brown University and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to find a way to remove the audio, video and photographic restrictions planned for the Nov. 7 event. While Brown is a private university, Senator Warren is a public official, and the interest in what a potential presidential candidate says the day after Election Day is obvious. [...]

Additional Coverage

As part of their Free Speech Week celebration in October 2018, NEFAC and a group of constitutional advocates and media organizations hosted a panel discussion to explore the future of the First Amendment. Free Speech Week is a national campaign to increase awareness of free speech and its value in a democracy. During the week, individuals, schools and organizations host events to highlight the importance of the First Amendment.

“While Trump may claim it’s political hyperbole, his message is still clear: It is OK to assault a reporter,” New England First Amendment Coalition Executive Director Justin Silverman said. “This is no longer a matter of simply criticizing the media or complaining about coverage. Now, we have a president endorsing violence against the press. Meanwhile, pipe bombs are being sent to newsrooms, and our allies in Saudi Arabia are covering up the murder of a Washington Post columnist. While a body slam may be slight in comparison, we need our president to make clear that no degree of violence against the press is acceptable.” [...]

Trump’s language undermines the long-standing watchdog role of the press as “the fourth estate” and raises serious security concerns for journalists and newsrooms. So far this year, 40 U.S. journalists have been attacked, including several who were covering the White Nationalist rally in Charlottesville, according to U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. And a number of journalists have received death threats online, on the air and via email. [...]
Troubling. That's how NEFAC described a decision by Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea to limit access to public information. In a recent interview on the Tara Granahan Show, NEFAC's Mike Stanton discussed Gorbea's controversial decision to ignore state law and deny public access to voter data. "The secretary of state who oversees a lot of records is now conveying this attitude that would embolden other government officials to do likewise," Stanton said. "That's troubling to us."

Additional Coverage



Trump Administration and the Press







Juror Access

Vanity Plates, Free Speech



Major Supporters and Contributors to the 
New England First Amendment Coalition include: