2019 New England First Amendment Awards

About the New England First Amendment Awards

February 15, 2019
12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel
606 Congress Street
Boston, Massachusetts

Parking Options

Luncheon guests can self-park at the Park Lane Garage. The garage entrance can be found on Park Lane. Turn right onto Park Lane from D Street, then the ramp will be on the left. A map and rates can be found here. Guests may also use the hotel valet service for a flat rate of $50.




12:30 p.m. Luncheon Begins
12:40 p.m. Welcoming Remarks and Introduction to Emcee
12:45 p.m. Luncheon Served
1 p.m. Special Recognition
Remarks on behalf of Burlington (Vt.) High School’s The Register
1:10 p.m. Presentation of the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award
Acceptance and remarks by 2019 Citizenship Award recipient David Saad
1:20 p.m. Presentation of the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award
Acceptance and remarks by the staff of 2019 FOI Award recipient Hartford Courant
1:30 p.m. Presentation of the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award
Acceptance and remarks by 2019 First Amendment Award recipient Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica
2 p.m. Closing Remarks

Master of Ceremonies

Janet Wu, WCVB-Boston

Janet Wu, a member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors, served as WCVB’s NewsCenter 5 Massachusetts political reporter for more than 30 years. During that time, Wu was a key member of WCVB’s political unit and received a prestigious Emmy at the 2015 Emmy Awards presented by the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences Boston/New England chapter. The award, in the Continuing Coverage – No Time Limit category, recognized Wu’s work on the station’s political coverage during the 2014 campaign season, an ongoing initiative entitled “Commitment 2014.” In 2015, Wu received the ‘Inspiration Award’ from the Asian Community Development Corporation for her consummate work as a political reporter. She was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Emerson College at the 2011 commencement, and in 2010, she was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Wu was a member of the team at WCVB honored on multiple occasions with the coveted Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Political Journalism. The station was recognized for its candidate-orientated reporting and its effort to cover issues important to the local community. In 1998, she was awarded top honors in the Associated Press Investigative/ Enterprise category and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting for her report entitled “Public Property, Private Lies.” Before coming to Channel 5, Wu was the State House reporter for WGBH-TV, Boston’s public television station. She also worked as a reporter for United Press International.

Award Nomination Materials (Closed)

• Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award
• Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award

2019 Award Recipients

Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica | Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award

Stephen Engelberg was the founding managing editor of ProPublica from 2008 to 2012, and became editor-in-chief in 2013. He worked previously as managing editor of The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon, where he supervised investigative projects and news coverage. Before that, he worked for 18 years at The New York Times as an editor and reporter, founding the paper’s investigative unit and serving as a reporter in Washington, D.C., and Warsaw. Among the numerous honors Engelberg has received during his career are two shared George Polk Awards for reporting: the first, in 1989, for articles on nuclear proliferation; the second, in 1994, for articles on U.S. immigration. A group of articles he co-authored in 1995 on an airplane crash was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Projects he supervised at the Times on Mexican corruption (published in 1997) and the rise of Al Qaeda (published beginning in January 2001) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. During his years at The Oregonian, the paper won the Pulitzer for breaking news and was a finalist for its investigative work on methamphetamines and charities intended to help the disabled. He is the co-author of “Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War” (2001).

Hartford Courant | Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

The Courant will be honored for its successful efforts to obtain information related to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty first-graders and six educators were killed during the shooting. Following the shooting, many documents pertaining to the massacre were kept secret and an incomplete picture of the shooter Adam Lanza emerged. This secrecy made it impossible to fully explore how similar tragedies could be prevented and, on a national level, effectively debate mental-health policy and gun laws. As the Courant’s publisher and editor-in-chief, Andrew Julien, explained: “Many of the clues to what led Adam Lanza’s dark descent to depravity could be found in writings, psychiatric evaluations and email communications seized from Lanza’s home by state police in the days after the shooting. But those documents were locked away from the public, press and experts by state police who delayed and then denied the Courant’s yearlong efforts to win their release.” The Courant won its fight for those records last year when the Connecticut State Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision and ordered more than 1,000 pages to be made public. The resulting stories provided a detailed picture of one of the country’s most notorious killers.

David Saad | Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award

In 2013, David Saad and several other citizens formed Right to Know NH as a nonpartisan citizen coalition working to improve transparency of New Hampshire state, county, and local governments. As president of the coalition, Saad’s advocacy includes drafting legislation to strengthen the state’s Right to Know Law and testifying during legislative hearings. He developed training materials and conducts training seminars on the public’s right to know. In 2017, Saad served on a commission established by the New Hampshire Legislature to study alternative processes that could be used to resolve public grievances involving public records and open meetings. He played a key role in drafting the commission’s findings report and proposed legislation intended to establish an independent ombudsman and appeals commission.

Burlington (Vt.) High School’s The Register | Special Recognition

The editors of the student-run newspaper used public records last year to break a story about their guidance director who faced disciplinary charges from the Vermont Agency of Education. When the students posted the story to The Register’s website, their principal demanded that the accurate article be removed. Fearing that the school district would retaliate against their teacher/newspaper advisor, the student editors reluctantly removed the story but began a public campaign to fight the censorship. By appearing at city meetings, speaking to the media and working with press and First Amendment groups, the student journalists prevailed in their battle with the administration and reposted their story. The School Board appointed the editors to a special committee to review the school’s student publication policies to assure that they conform to state and federal law. As a result of the students’ efforts, Burlington High School now has an updated policy that is designed to prevent similar censorship in the future.

News and Press Coverage

• ProPublica Editor Says Economics Biggest Threat to Free Press | Providence Journal 3.3.19
• ProPublica Editor: Economics Biggest Threat to Free Press | Roger Williams University 3.1.19
• Documents Provide Insight Into Mind of a Murderer | Roger Williams University 2.19.19
• Student Journalists Win Battle Against Censorship | Roger Williams University 2.19.19
• Student-Journalists Recognized for Fighting Censorship | WCAX-Burlington 2.15.19
• Vermont High School Paper to Be Recognized for Pushing Story | Associated Press 2.10.18
• Newspaper Honored for Sandy Hook Shooting Records Quest | Associated Press 2.10.18
• NEFAC to Recognize Student Journalists from Burlington (Vt.) at Annual Awards Luncheon 2.8.18
• New Hampshire Open Government Advocate to Receive NEFAC’s Orfield Citizenship Award 2.5.18
• Courant Wins Top New England FOI Award | Hartford Courant 2.1.18
• Hartford Courant to Receive NEFAC’s 2019 Donoghue Freedom of Information Award | 2.1.18
• WCVB’s Janet Wu, Award-Winning Journalist, to Emcee New England First Amendment Awards | 12.7.18
• ProPublica Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg to Receive NEFAC’s 2019 First Amendment Award | 11.6.18
• NEFAC Accepting Nominations for Annual Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award | 10.11.18
• NEFAC Seeking Nominations for Annual Michael Donoghue FOI Award; Deadline January 11 | 10.9.18

Sponsors and Table Hosts

WBUR-Boston | Roger Williams University | The Boston Globe | Boston University | Thomas Fiedler | Emerson College | Northeastern University | Boston 25 News | Prince Lobel Tye

Patron Supporters and Other Contributors

New England Newspaper & Press Association