The New England First Amendment Coalition’s “First Amendment and the Free Press” program discusses the democratic role journalism plays in our country and how local newsrooms can better meet their obligations to the communities they cover. 

The program brings reporters, academics and legal scholars onto campuses and into the region’s classrooms and community centers to pull back the newsroom curtain and explain how journalism works — and how it could be improved.

To meet the increasing demand for remote accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the coalition began also offering recorded interviews and panel discussions to address a variety of First Amendment and press issues, such as government transparency, the coverage of protests and the reputational harm caused by crime reporting.



An Executive Privilege for New Hampshire’s Governor?

Cassidy Jensen, a reporter at The Concord Monitor, discusses a public records request she and her colleagues made of Gov. Sununu and the unexpected response they received. Discussion notes and links.


Using Public Records in Connecticut to Shine a Light on Superintendent Pay

Viktoria Sundqvist, newsroom data analyst for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, explains how she used the state’s public records law to gather superintendent payroll information. Discussion notes and links.


Launching a Non-Profit Newsroom: The New Bedford Light and Local Journalism

Barbara Roessner, a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors and the founding editor of the New Bedford Light, discusses the need for more local journalism and how those in other communities can form their own non-profit news organizations. Discussion notes and links.


Reconsidering Newsworthiness: Balancing the Reputational Harm Caused By Crime Coverage

NEFAC led a conversation on how local newsrooms are reevaluating the newsworthiness of old stories in response to concerns about individual privacy interests. The discussion was part of the New England Newspaper & Press Association‘s 2021 spring convention.


Local Journalism and Transparency in Massachusetts

NEFAC and the Medfield Insider celebrated Sunshine Week on March 19 with an expert panel discussion about local journalism and the need for transparency in Massachusetts. Speakers include attorney Peter Caruso, Kay Lazar of The Boston Globe, Morgan C. Mullings of The Bay State Banner, and Charles Sennott of The GroundTruth Project.


National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Challenges Facing Latinos in New England Newsrooms

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. Discussion links notes.


Reconsidering News Coverage: A Look at The Boston Globe’s Fresh Start Initiative

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. Discussion links and notes.


Reporting on Local Protests: How Newsrooms Cover Political Demonstrations

With political demonstrations occurring throughout the country and weekly protests held at the Maine State House, citizens are asking: why are these events covered the way they are? This program helps pull back the newsroom curtain and focuses on recent news coverage.


Maine Judicial Records: A First Amendment Right to Access

NEFAC’s Judy Meyer, executive editor at the Sun Journal, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, discusses a recent lawsuit to protect the First Amendment right to judicial documents in Maine and what could happen if that access continues to be denied. Discussion links and notes.


Filling the Local News Void: A Look at the Waterbury Roundabout

Lisa Scagliotti, editor of the recently launched Waterbury (Vt.) Roundabout, describes how the closure of a local newspaper left her community without a regular news source and how she responded by launching her own. Discussion links and notes.



Saving Local Journalism: How a Mass. Legislative Commission is Looking for Solutions

Dan Kennedy, a professor at Northeastern University, discusses the struggles of local journalism, challenges facing the news industry and how a recently established legislative commission in Massachusetts may help. Discussion links and notes.