Deadline Approaching for NEFAC’s Annual Freedom of Information, Citizenship Awards

Nominations Must Be Received By Jan. 15; Journalists, Citizen Watchdogs Encouraged to Apply

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

NEW ENGLAND FIRST AMENDMENT AWARDS |  February 23, 2018 | 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. | Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel

The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominees for its Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information and Antonia Orfield Citizenship awards. The deadline for both is January 15.

Submission forms and requirements for both awards are linked below and can also be found here. The awards will be presented at NEFAC’s annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on February 23 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

Also to be presented at the luncheon is the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. The Hamblett Award, named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment. Jane Mayer of The New Yorker will accept the 2018 award.

Sponsors, contributors and luncheon table hosts include WBURThe Boston GlobeBoston UniversityBoston 25 NewsNortheastern UniversityUniversity of New HampshireWCVBRoger Williams UniversityPrince Lobel Tye LLP and the New England Newspaper & Press Association.

Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award


The FOI Award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference is given to applicants who overcome significant official resistance.

The award is named for Michael Donoghue, a current member of NEFAC’s Board of Directors who worked for more than 40 years at the Burlington Free Press. Donoghue was selected as the 2013 New England Journalist of the Year by the New England Society of News Editors and in 2015 received the Matthew Lyon First Amendment Award. Donoghue has been an adjunct professor of journalism and mass communications at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. since 1985.


Previous recipients of the FOI Award include:

· 2017 The Sun Journal | When Maine courts instituted a new procedure for sealing court records in violation of state law, The Sun Journal successfully fought for its reversal.

· 2016 Jenifer McKim | As a reporter for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, McKim overcame significant freedom of information challenges to write “Out of the Shadows,” a 2015 series about child abuse and neglect.

· 2015 James W. Foley (posthumously) | A seasoned war correspondent, New Hampshire native Foley committed himself to the truth and, in his words, “exposing untold stories.” While working in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, Foley reported on the lives of those disadvantaged and suffering.

· 2014 Brent Curtis | A reporter for the Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Curtis fought for access to certain police records and helped make Vermont police departments more transparent.

· 2013 Don Stacom | Stacom of the Hartford Courant pursued stories about police misconduct through the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, prompting a shakeup of the New Britain, Conn., police department.

Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award


The Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award is given to an individual from one of the six New England states who has fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of its community or what its government is doing – or not doing – on its behalf. The candidate should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty while obtaining information that the public has a right to know.

The Citizenship Award is named after Antonia Orfield, an author, mother, optometrist, clinical professor and active citizen. Dr. Orfield worked to improve the schools in the communities she lived in, serving on one of the first elected local school councils in Chicago. Dr. Orfield operated a vision clinic in Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, Mass., which documented the improvement of children’s grades and test scores with unconventional vision-related remedies to learning problems. The findings were published in several articles and in “Eyes for Learning,” her 2007 book.


Previous recipients of the Orfield Citizenship Award include:

· 2017 Donna Green | Green won a public records battle in the New Hampshire Supreme Court which required the distribution of public, non-confidential information in commonly used electronic formats when available.

· 2016 Michael A. Champa | Champa uncovered inequities in special education services provided by Massachusetts towns after fighting a public records battle that was decided in his favor by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

· 2015 Harriet Cady | Cady is a long-time open government activist, frequently speaking on freedom of information concerns and helping to create the watchdog group Right to Know New Hampshire.

· 2014 Kit Savage | Savage’s investigation uncovered violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which formed the basis of a complaint to the Connecticut Department of Education.

· 2013 David Lang | After a nine-year crusade, Lang exposed the mismanagement of health insurance premiums, resulting in a court order to refund $53 million to New Hampshire public employees.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.