Celebrating the Student Journalist | NEFAC’s Justin Silverman and Josh Moore at the Student Press Law Center describe the increasingly critical role student journalists play in our communities. In their Student Press Freedom Day op/ed, Silverman and Moore write that “more than 200 of the nation’s counties have no newspaper and no alternative source of credible information on critical issues. Student journalists, however, are filling the void.”

Your Right to Know in New Hampshire | NEFAC President Gregory V. Sullivan joined journalist Annmarie Timmins and advocate Katherine Kokko on PBS’s The State We’re In. Sullivan discussed the state’s Right to Know Law and HB 1002, a bill that would allow public bodies and agencies to charge up to $25 an hour for record searches that take longer than 10 hours. Learn more about the New Hampshire Right to Know Law in our FOI Guide.

Why Do Lawmakers Want to Update the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act? | The Public’s Radio afternoon host Dave Fallon recently spoke with NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman about Rhode Island’s Access to Public Records Act and efforts to reform the law. A bill currently being considered proposes a reduction of fees for records, more transparency within law enforcement agencies and updates to how requests can be submitted, among other changes.

How Public Records Shed Light on State and Local Government in Rhode Island | Public records are one of the key tools journalists use to shed light on state and local government in Rhode Island. Celebrate Sunshine Week by listening to working journalists who use Rhode Island’s public records law daily to share important stories and to hold our government accountable. Learn the good — and bad — of public records law in Rhode Island.

Applications Now Open for New Hampshire CivDoc Training; Deadline Extended to March 1  | Civic Documenters is led by NEFAC, the Granite State News Collaborative and the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Through a five-week training program, CivDoc provides open government training to a select group of New Hampshire residents who then collaborate with newsrooms on an ongoing basis to gather essential information for local news stories.

Proposed Public Record Fees Too High a Price for Transparency in New Hampshire | Former reporter Mark Hayward writes: If it becomes law, HB 1002 will prove costly to journalists and news media, which are hardly rolling in wealth these days. Reporters will reduce their requests, either by number or breadth. Editors will question whether the reporter should file a request in the first place. And stories won’t get written.

NEFAC, MNPA to Mass. High Court: More Transparency Needed in Cambridge Brothel Case | The The groups outlined arguments for more transparency in a high-profile commercial sex ring case that could ultimately be heard in secret. In their request to file an amicus brief, NEFAC and the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association explained that the “press’s ability to keep the public informed is premised in large part on open access to the court system.”

Accessing Police Misconduct Records | NEFAC is continuing its freedom of information lessons with new classes on how to obtain police misconduct records. The lessons build on the information provided in the coalition’s growing library of public records classes which can be viewed here. They will be taught by local journalists and attorneys who will provide an overview of their respective state’s law and explain how misconduct records can be accessed. Register now.

NEFAC Suggests N.H. Right to Know Ombudsman Policy Changes | The New England First Amendment Coalition requested changes today to policies proposed by the New Hampshire Right to Know Ombudsman. Thomas Kerr, who serves as the state’s first ombudsman, is considering changes to certain procedures and ethical standards within his office. NEFAC evaluated Rko 100, 200 and 300. Learn more about the Right-to-Know Law in our New Hampshire FOI Guide.

Meet NEFAC’s 2024 Directors and Advisors | NEFAC is pleased to announce its leadership for 2024, a group of more than four dozen directors and advisors who represent many of the most prestigious newsrooms and law firms in the region. The coalition’s Executive Committee includes Gregory V. Sullivan, Esq.; Maggie Mulvihill at Boston University; non-profit executive Christopher “Topher” Hamblett; and Shirley Leung and Emily Sweeney, both of The Boston Globe.

NEFAC Calls N.H. Public Records Proposal ‘Monumental Step in Wrong Direction’ | The purpose of New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law, NEFAC President Gregory V. Sullivan wrote to the state’s House Judiciary Committee, is to provide “both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.” Passage of HB 1002, however, would ensure the opposite result.

NEFAC, ACLU and N.H. Press Support Public Records Fee-Shifting Requirement | NEFAC is calling for mandatory fee shifting in the state’s public records law. HB307 would require government bodies to bear the expense of a record requester’s successful lawsuit. Currently under the law, the requester pays the litigation costs in most cases unless it can be shown that the public body “knew or should have known that the conduct engaged in was in violation” of the law.

NEFAC Joins A Lively Experiment to Discuss Public Records in Rhode Island | NEFAC’s Ed Fitzpatrick, a reporter at The Boston Globe, recently joined Rhode Island Current’s Nancy Lavin, The Providence Journal’s Patrick Anderson and moderator Jim Hummel to discuss public records in the state. Discussion begins at 18:07. Learn more about the coalition’s support of public records reform in Rhode Island and how you can use the law to keep government accountable.

30 Minute Skills: How Journalists Can Begin Using AI | While some journalists have responded to newsroom AI with apprehension, the technology’s positive potential is beginning to emerge. This lesson focuses on how individual reporters can use the technology to strengthen their work and to support local journalism. You’ll learn (1) how to use AI for storytelling (2) how to create images using AI and (3) how to query and upgrade old documents.

NEFAC Calls for Mass. Courts to Follow Rules on Remote Access to Criminal Case Information | Court rules on electronic records require certain information — such as the names of attorneys and the case calendar — to be provided electronically to the public. Much of this information, however, appears to be missing for members of the general public searching criminal cases using the state’s online court records portal.

NEFAC, Civil Rights Advocates Argue for Release of Police Misconduct Records in Massachusetts | The case involves an investigation into a fatal shooting by Fall River police. Family members are seeking records related to the investigation that a recent change in state law makes public. The District Attorney, however, is misconstruing the law by denying access to those records, explained NEFAC and other advocates in a recent amicus curiae brief.

Connecticut: Online Access to State Court Documents | Andrew Brown, an investigative reporter at the CT Mirror, provides step-by-step instruction on how to access judicial records online. This lesson builds on the information provided in NEFAC’s introduction to state court classes which can be viewed on our YouTube channel and in our FOI Guide. Learn more about our upcoming FOI lessons and register for classes on your state’s court system here.

NEFAC Receives ‘Game-Changing’ Bequest to Support Journalism Education, Programming | The New England First Amendment Coalition recently received the largest gift in the organization’s history from the estate of Gloria Negri, the late trailblazing journalist at The Boston Globe. The estate bequeathed $818,125 to the coalition for journalism education and programming. NEFAC will be renaming its annual New England First Amendment Institute after Negri in her honor.

Rhode Island: Online Access to State Court Documents | NEFAC’s Tim White, an investigative reporter for WPRI in Providence, provides step-by-step instruction on how to access judicial records online. This lesson builds on the information provided in NEFAC’s introduction to state court classes which can be viewed on our YouTube channel and in our FOI Guide. Learn more about our upcoming FOI lessons and register for classes on your state’s court system here.

NEFAC, New Hampshire News Organizations Request Release of Education Reform Records | NEFAC recently argued for the release of all records related to a special task force that will recommend revisions to rules governing public education in the state. The task force is a quasi-governmental body and subject to New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law, explained NEFAC, the Granite State News Collaborative and the New Hampshire Press Association.