Hearst Connecticut Media Group to Receive NEFAC’s 2020 Michael Donoghue FOI Award

Coalition to Honor Journalists Behind Investigation Into Sexual Abuse Allegations Tied to Boys & Girls Clubs

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 | justin@nefac.org

The New England First Amendment Coalition will honor Hearst Connecticut Media Group with its 2020 Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award.

The FOI Award is presented annually to New England journalists who protect or advance the public’s right to know under federal or state law. A committee of NEFAC board members chooses the FOI Award recipient based solely on merit.

Hearst Connecticut will be honored next month at NEFAC’s 10th annual awards luncheon for its investigation into sexual abuse incidents connected with Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

A team of seven journalists at Hearst Connecticut spent more than six months digging through 1,600 pages of public documents and filing more than 100 public record requests. They found more than 100 cases of abuse involving 280 victims in 31 states over the course of 70 years.

The Hearst staff used the documents it obtained to create a public database that allows parents sending a child to a local Boys & Girls Club to look up information about incidents and how they were handled by the organization.

As a result of the reporting, Boys & Girls Clubs of America — which oversees 4,600 local affiliates — announced it will hire a third-party firm to review how it responds to complaints related to abuse and will provide additional safety training to its staff.

The awards luncheon will be from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. Tickets can be purchased here.

During the luncheon, A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, will be honored with the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award.

WBUR is the luncheon’s primary sponsor.

Other sponsors, table hosts and supporters include Boston University, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Northeastern University, Boston 25 News, The Day, Central Connecticut State University, WCVB Boston, Thomas Fiedler and the University of Connecticut.

The New England First Amendment Awards luncheon is part of the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s winter convention. Students of journalism departments that purchase tables to the luncheon receive free registration to the convention. Learn more.

Previous recipients of the FOI Award are the Hartford Courant (2019); Todd Wallack of The Boston Globe (2018); The Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine (2017); Jenifer McKim of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (2016); James W. Foley (posthumously), the war correspondent and New Hampshire native killed by the Islamic State (2015); Brent Curtis of the Rutland Herald in Vermont (2014); and Don Stacom of the Hartford Courant (2013).

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 Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.