How Newsrooms Use the Public Records Appeals Process to Fight for Information

NEFAC Classes on Public Records Continue with FOI Lessons from New England Journalists

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is continuing its series on public record laws with new classes on how newsrooms use the appeal process in their respective states as well as the Freedom of Information Act.

The classes will feature local journalists who will explain how their newsrooms appealed a public records request denial and the stories that resulted.

This latest round of classes will be provided by NEFAC with support from the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, SPJ New England, the Rhode Island Foundation, MuckRock and the New England Society of News Editors.

Previous lessons can be viewed on NEFAC’s YouTube channel or through its new multimedia FOI Guide. It is recommended that these lessons are viewed prior to attending the new classes.

Registration is free and open to all members of the public.

The latest in a series of lessons — taught by leading open government experts, attorneys and journalists — on the federal Freedom of Information Act and state FOI laws.

Each class will be moderated by Emily Sweeney, a journalist at The Boston Globe and author of the books “Boston Organized Crime” and “Gangland Boston.” Sweeney currently writes the Blotter Tales column which appears in the Globe every Sunday. In addition to serving on the NEFAC Board of Directors, she’s also president of the New England Society of News Editors.

RHODE ISLAND | May 4 | 6:30 p.m.

Eli Sherman is an Emmy and Murrow award-winning journalist at WPRI in Providence. He previously worked at GateHouse Media, Providence Business News and the Waltham News Tribune.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Rhode Island Public Records Law (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

NEW HAMPSHIRE | May 11 | 6:30 p.m.

Mark Hayward has worked at the New Hampshire Union Leader since 1997. He has held a number of reporting positions and currently focuses on crime, courts and social justice issues.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to New Hampshire Public Records Law (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

MASSACHUSETTS | May 18 | 6:30 p.m.

Todd Wallack has been the deputy managing editor in WBUR’s newsroom since March 2021. As part of that role, he oversees a team of reporters who cover politics, criminal justice, and general news.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Massachusetts Public Records Law (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

FEDERAL FOIA | May 25 | 6:30 p.m.

Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He is a 2018 Pulitzer finalist for international reporting and recipient of the IRE 2016 FOI award.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to the Federal Freedom of Information Act (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

VERMONT | June 1 | 6:30 p.m.

Alan J. Keays is a reporter at the VTDigger where he reports on criminal justice issues. Keays is the former longtime news editor of the Rutland Herald.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Vermont Public Records Law (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

MAINE | June 8 | 6:30 p.m.

Callie Ferguson is an enterprise and investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News, the only independent statewide daily newspaper in Maine. She writes about criminal justice, police, and housing.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to the Maine Public Records Law (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

CONNECTICUT | June 15 | 6:30 p.m.

Len Besthoff is the Chief Investigative Reporter for the NBC Connecticut Investigates team. He concentrates on stories using data, records, and whistleblowers to expose waste, corruption, and wrongdoing.


Recommended Viewing: (1) Introduction to Connecticut Public Records Law (2) 3 Requests 3 Stories (3) Public Record Appeals

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.

Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, WBUR-Boston, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.