Educator, Former Journalist Maria Hiaasen to Speak at Ninth Annual Institute

Widow of Capital Gazette Shooting Victim, Hiaasen Will Discuss Value of Local Journalism

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

Maria Hiaasen, a former journalist and widow of Capital Gazette shooting victim Rob Hiaasen, will be a featured speaker at the ninth annual New England First Amendment Institute.

The New England First Amendment Coalition offers the three-day investigative journalism program each year at no cost to 25 New England journalists. The institute is from Sept. 22-24 at Northeastern University in Boston.

The institute provides editors and reporters with the support and training necessary to become accomplished investigative journalists, well versed in the freedom of information laws that govern today’s difficult reporting landscape. Many exceptional, award-winning journalists and First Amendment attorneys volunteer as faculty each year.

Application materials can be obtained here. Deadline August 9.

Faculty this year include Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post; Cindy Galli of ABC News; Matt Kauffman, formerly of the Hartford Courant; Mike Beaudet of WCVB-Boston and Northeastern University; Amanda Milkovits of The Boston Globe; and Tim White of WPRI-Providence. A full list of speakers, with more to be announced, can be viewed here.

Hiaasen, who will be speaking on Day Three of the institute, earned a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982. There, she directed the news staff at the university’s student radio station while working part-time on the news staff at WQDR-FM in Raleigh, N.C. She contributed to “Our Forgotten Warriors,” WQDR’s 1981 George Foster Peabody Award winning series on Vietnam veterans.

Like her husband, Hiaasen left broadcasting for print journalism and joined the Palm Beach Post in the late 1980s. There, she worked as a police and general assignment reporter in the paper’s south county bureau.

A former freelancer for the Baltimore Sun, she has taught English for 16 years, most recently at Dulaney High School in Timonium, Md., which selected her as the school’s nominee for teacher of the year in 2016. For eight years, she led Dulaney’s student newspaper, The Griffin, a Columbia Student Press Association Gold Medal winner. In 2017, she was recognized as a teacher mentor by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill Presidential Scholars Program for her impact on an exemplary broadcast journalism student at College Park.

This year’s institute is made possible by the generosity of Northeastern University, the Academy of New England Journalists and the Boston University College of Communication.

Other supporters of NEFAC this year include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Barr Foundation, The Boston Globe and WBUR-Boston.

More information about NEFAI 2019, including a tentative schedule, can be read here. Information on previous institutes can be found here.

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 Hearst Connecticut Media Group, the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.