2017 New England First Amendment Awards


Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award

Presented to Margaret Sullivan 00:30:16

Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

Presented to the Sun Journal 00:21:15

Anotonia Orfield Citizenship Award

Presented to Donna Green 00:08:58





About NEFAC’s First Amendment Awards Luncheon

February 24, 2017
12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Boston Marriott Long Wharf
296 State Street
Boston, Massachusetts


Award Application/Nomination Materials (Closed)

Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award


2017 Award Recipients

Margaret Sullivan | Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award

sullivanMargaret Sullivan is the media columnist for The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2016, she was The New York Times public editor, and previously, the chief editor of The Buffalo News, the largest news organization in upstate New York. She began at The News, her hometown paper, as a summer intern. She was a government reporter, metro columnist and city-desk editor. As top editor, she emphasized local enterprise reporting, diversified the 200-member newsroom staff, and established the paper’ first investigative team. While New York Times public editor, she pressed for, and achieved, the strengthening of The Times’ guidelines on the use of anonymous sources. A graduate of Georgetown University and Northwestern University’s Medill School, she lives in Washington, D.C. She is a former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and was twice elected as a director of the American Society of News Editors, where she led the First Amendment committee. Sullivan has taught in the graduate schools of journalism at Columbia University and City University of New York. She is the mother of two, both working in public defenders offices.

The Sun Journal | Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

In April 2016, a Sun Journal reporter went to the Oxford County Superior Court to access the case file of a man charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault in connection with a motorcycle accident two years earlier. The reporter was told there existed no such case file. But there was such a file. The Sun Journal had been reporting on the case for more than a year. Believing there was miscommunication between the reporter and court clerk, editors at the Sun Journal called the court for clarification and were told the case was sealed. Without any notice to the public, Maine courts had instituted an entirely new procedure for court records: All dismissed criminal case files would become sealed after 30 days and clerks were prohibited from releasing any information on those cases. The new policy was in violation of public record laws. The Sun Journal fought against the policy and demanded that it be reversed. Freedom of information advocates from across the region joined the campaign. After six weeks, dozens of phone calls, more than 100 emails from the Sun Journal staff and enormous pressure from media companies and public access advocates, the court reversed course and ended the policy.

Donna Green | Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award

Green is a member of Right to Know New Hampshire, a state-based government transparency organization, a representative of Sandown on the Timberlane Regional School Board, and president of the newly formed School District Governance Association of New Hampshire. As a school board member, Green began her public records quest two years ago by requesting school district salary information. The superintendent’s office (SAU55), however, refused to provide this information in an electronic format. The New Hampshire Right to Know Law, the SAU argued, didn’t require this information to be released electronically even if available in that form. Instead, Green was limited to inspecting the records in person or paying 50 cents a page for paper printouts, which would have cost well over $150. Green unsuccessfully challenged that interpretation of the law in a pro se lawsuit in Superior Court. With the assistance of attorney Richard Lehmann, she appealed to the state’s highest court. In a decision last April, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Green, saying that the Right to Know Law should be interpreted broadly and facilitate the efficient and cost-effective production of records. The court found that the distribution of public, non-confidential information in commonly used electronic formats ensures the greatest degree of openness and the greatest amount of public access to the decisions made by the public officials.


News and Press Coverage

Attacks on the Media Only Making Them Stronger | Roger Williams University 3.5.17

Exercising First Amendment Rights is a Team Sport | Roger Williams University 3.1.17

Recipients Call for Relentless Pursuit, Defense of the Truth | NENPA 2.26.17

Sun Journal Receives First Amendment Award | Sun Journal 2.25.17

Margaret Sullivan Receives First Amendment Award | The Boston Globe 2.24.17

Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan Calls for Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Defense of Media and First Amendment Freedoms | 2.24.17

Why The Role Of The Press Matters | WBZ-Boston 2.24.17

Trump at CPAC, a Political Oscar Show, and Eliminating Plastic Straws | The Boston Globe 2.24.17

With Journalism Under Historic Attack, Washington Post Media Columnist to Speak at New England First Amendment Awards | 2.21.17

NEFAC to Honor Maine Newspaper and N.H. Resident for Right-to-Know Advocacy | 2.7.17

Deadline Extended for Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award Nominations; Due Jan. 31 | 1.17.17

Deadline Approaching for NEFAC’s Annual Donoghue FOI, Orfield Citizenship Awards | 1.3.16

Jon Keller of WBZ-TV to Emcee Seventh Annual New England First Amendment Awards Luncheon | 12.14.16

NEFAC Accepting Nominations for 2017 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award | 11.15.16

NEFAC Seeking Applicants for 2017 Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award | 11.8.16

New England First Amendment Coalition to Honor Margaret Sullivan | The Boston Globe 11.1.16

Washington Post Media Columnist Wins New England Prize | Associated Press 11.1.16

Media Rights Champion, Washington Post Columnist Margaret Sullivan to Receive NEFAC’s 2017 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award | 11.1.16


Sponsors and Table Hosts


Patron Supporters and Other Contributors

The Buffalo News

Tom Fiedler

Mary Jane Wilkinson

University of Connecticut