The New England First Amendment Coalition’s “First Amendment and the Free Press” program highlights our constitutional freedoms and the democratic role journalism plays in our country.

We discuss how the First Amendment works and how local newsrooms can best meet their obligations to the communities they cover. 

In addition to providing general First Amendment education, this 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. We also provide classroom lessons on a range of First Amendment and journalism topics.

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. Email NEFAC’s Justin Silverman at to schedule a guest speaker for your event.

Here’s a sampling of our audiences during previous years:



Feb. 13 | Nackey. S Loeb School of Communications
March 12 | World Boston – Misinformation and Journalism
March 15 | New Hampshire Liberty Forum
March 16 | William Hall Library (Cranston, R.I.)
April 4 | University of Massachusetts (3 Classes)
April TBD | University of Rhode Island
May 3 | New England Scholastic Press Association


A Cyberattack Against RIPTA: Using Public Records to Complete the Story

Tolly Taylor at WPRI in Providence describes how he reported on a recent cyberattack against the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and the role public records played. Discussion notes and links.


Medical Costs in Connecticut: Turning Large Datasets Into Compelling Stories

Mary Katherine Wildeman of Hearst Connecticut discusses her investigation into hospital pricing. Wildeman collected documents on what hospitals charged their patients, created a database to manage that information, and reported on the inequities she found. Discussion notes and links.


Secret Courts in Massachusetts

Anastasia Lennon, a reporter for the New Bedford Light, discusses her attempts to access a criminal court proceeding that’s closed to the public. Secret “show cause” hearings occur throughout the state typically with no notice to the public. Massachusetts is the only state in the country where these types of hearings occur. Discussion notes and links.


Reporting on Traumatic Events: A Look at Hearst Connecticut’s ‘Lost to Abuse’

Hearst Connecticut Media Group reporter Verónica Del Valle describes a recent series on domestic violence, the importance of public records and the challenges of covering tragedies. Discussion notes and links.


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 and 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.