The New England First Amendment Coalition recently launched a monthly educational series featuring short, practical lessons on journalism and the First Amendment.

The goal of the program — called “30 Minute Skills” — is to provide reporters and other citizens knowledge they can use immediately in newsgathering, data collection, storytelling and other areas of journalism and First Amendment law.

The lessons are provided in a 30-minute format to accommodate the demanding schedules faced by many working in New England newsrooms.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration for each lesson is required.


VIEW ALL CLASSES


UPCOMING CLASSES

May 11 | 12 p.m. ET | How to Diversify Your Sources


RECENT CLASSES

How to Diversify Your Sources

Instructor: Neema Roshania Patel | The Washington Post

Diversifying your sources can also help strengthen your credibility and improve your overall journalism practices. By viewing this lesson, you will learn:

• How diversifying sources can make journalists more trustworthy arbiters of the news.
• Questions that can be asked while newsgathering to help diversify sources.
• Where to find resources to help build new source lists.

How to Navigate the Court System

Instructor: Roy S. Gutterman | Syracuse University

Accessing local, state and federal courts can be an intimidating task. It can often be a challenge to obtain information about hearings, attend proceedings and receive copies of judicial records. By viewing this lesson, you will learn:

• How the court system operates and the levels of public access.
• The gatekeepers of information and where they can be found.
• Strategies and tips for reporters beginning to cover the courts.

How to Avoid Libel in Your Reporting

Instructor: Gregory V. Sullivan | Malloy & Sullivan

The line where First Amendment protection begins and ends isn’t always clear for those speaking critically of private and public figures. By viewing this class, you will learn:

• The seminal First Amendment cases addressing defamatory speech and recent developments in libel law.
• The current legal standards used to determine if speech is libelous.
• Good practices for you and your newsroom that will help avoid libel claims.

How to Respond to a Subpoena

Instructor: Matt Byrne | Gravel & Shea

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, at least 85 journalists have received subpoenas since 2017. These legal orders can be intimidating and infringe on your rights as a journalists. By completing this lesson, you will learn about:

• The history of subpoenas and their legal authority.
• Arguments and strategies that can be made in response to a subpoena.
• How to advocate for yourself and newsroom when in court.

How to Protect Women Journalists

Instructor: Karin Nazish | Coalition for Women in Journalism

With newsrooms often lacking effective support systems, women journalists are regularly belittled, have their professionalism questioned and endure mistreatment strictly based on their gender. By viewing this class, you will learn about:

• The types of threats currently facing women journalists.
• How to protect yourself from online trolling.
• How to stay safe at protests and large demonstrations.

Data Visualization 101

Instructor: Eli Sherman | WPRI-12 Providence

While there are encouraging signs that COVID-19 in New England is becoming less severe, telling stories using data will continue to be an important skill for journalists covering any beat. By viewing this class, you will learn about:

• How to find and obtain reliable COVID-19 data.
• How to create simple data visualizations using free online tools.
• How to identify story ideas from that data.

HIPAA and Public Records

Instructor: Adam A. Marshall | Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is one of the most misunderstood laws. Government officials often incorrectly cite the 25-year-old federal statute. By completing this lesson, you will learn:

• The history and purpose of HIPAA.
• Under what circumstances and to what types of entities HIPAA applies.
• How to best respond to public record denials that are incorrectly attributed to HIPAA.

Web Scraping 101

Instructor: Maggie Mulvihill | NEFAC, Boston University

This is the first of two introductory lessons about collecting online data through web scraping. By viewing this class, you will learn:

• How web scraping can be helpful to data collection.
• Where to find free tools to use for web scraping.
• How to begin scraping various websites for information and data.

Web Scraping 102

Instructor: Maggie Mulvihill | NEFAC, Boston University

This is the second of two introductory lessons about collecting online data through web scraping. By viewing this class, you will learn:

• Additional ways to scrape websites for information.
• How to use free online tools for web scraping.
• How to scrape data from PDF documents for use in spreadsheets.

Self-Care for Journalists

Instructor: Elana Newman, Ph.D. | University of Tulsa, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

After interviewing people who have suffered great loss or covering various conflicts, journalists of all backgrounds may need help coping with their own exposure to traumatic events. By viewing this class, you will be able to:

• Explain the rationale for good self-care.
• Identify areas where self-care practical tools may be necessary.
• Begin to implement specific self-care strategies or practical tools.

FERPA and Public Records

Instructor: Mike Hiestand | Student Press Law Center

What is or is not a FERPA record has become more consequential during the COVID-19 pandemic given the increasing demand for school data. By viewing this lesson, you will learn:

• More about the history and purpose of FERPA.
• Under what circumstances and to what types of educational institutions FERPA applies.
• How to best respond to public record denials that are incorrectly attributed to FERPA.