NEFAC REPORT | October 2019
The awards will be presented at NEFAC’s 10th annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon on February 7 in Boston. All ticket proceeds to benefit First Amendment and journalism education in New England.

Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

The FOI 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.

Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award

The award is given to an individual from one of the six 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.

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently joined a group of media organizations to demand quicker access to the audio recordings of oral arguments in several upcoming U.S. Supreme Court hearings.

The court is scheduled to soon hear three cases addressing nondiscrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and three cases about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival plan.

NEFAC and other free press advocates argued that: “There is a strong interest nationwide in closely following these proceedings as they occur, in as close to real-time as possible.” [...]


First Amendment and the Free Press Program Highlights Need for Community Journalism
Since January 2018, NEFAC has hosted programs or provided presentations at more than 60 locations throughout the region.

Our First Amendment and the Free Press series is bringing some of the region's most respected journalists, attorneys and academics to classrooms, campuses and local community centers.

We're helping to educate citizens about the value of journalism and strengthen the trust communities have in their local newsrooms. Please email for more information.

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently argued for the right to secretly record the public activities of government officials, including police officers.

In an Oct. 4 amicus brief drafted by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, NEFAC and other media organizations explained that:

“[I]n situations where parties to a secretly recorded interaction have no reasonable expectation of privacy, it cannot be said that any state interest is advanced by criminalizing recording of that interaction.” [...]

Additional Coverage

The New England First Amendment Coalition recently joined a group of media organizations and open government advocates to renew its call for more accountability at privately managed prisons.

The coalition supports reintroducing the Private Prison Information Act which would apply the federal Freedom of Information Act to private prison, correctional and detention facilities working on behalf of the federal government.

In a letter sent to U.S. senators, NEFAC and more than 40 groups wrote: “Private prison companies that receive federal funding provide the same service as government agencies, but, by asserting their status as private entities, claim that they are not subject to public records laws such as the FOIA. As a result, the public is largely in the dark . . .” [...]

Nov. 6
Providence Community Library – Olneyville Branch
Providence, R.I.

Nov. 7
Fitchburg Public Library
Fitchburg, Mass.

Nov. 13
Lawrence Public Library
Pepperell, Mass.



Juvenile Justice, Secret Trials

Protest, Right to Record

Offensive Language, Criminal Law

Dalio Partnership, Transparency



Student Speech

Unions, Political Speech



Public Records

Student Journalism




Open Meetings, Decorum



Copying Public Records, Fees