NEFAC, Media Organizations Argue for Fair Report Privilege Protections

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition recently argued that a New York fair report privilege protects the publication of unverified allegations that are part of official proceedings, protects reports on non-public official investigations and protects reporting on documents subject, even in part, to government investigation.

“Failure to recognize the proper scope of this privilege would stifle journalists’ ability to report on matters of the greatest importance by threatening them with liability for republishing newsworthy documents that are the subject of important governmental investigations,” argued NEFAC and 32 media organizations in an April 26 amicus brief. “The ultimate loser of any such ruling would be the public.”

The amici filed the brief — drafted by Cahill Gordon & Reindel — in Gubarev v. BuzzFeed, a defamation action currently before the 11th Circuit. While not being heard in a New England jurisdiction, the case is of national importance. It arises from a January 2017 BuzzFeed article that published the “Trump-Russia dossier,” also known as the “Steele dossier.”

NEFAC regularly files and joins amicus briefs in cases involving the First Amendment and the public’s right to know. The coalition recently argued for public access to retailer revenue under the federal Freedom of Information Actagainst U.S. Dept. of Interior FOIA rulesfor free access to police body camera footage in Vermontfor Massachusetts public records in aggregate formfor timely access to juror identitiesfor the right to private emails of government officials when they pertain to public businessfor the freedom to record public police activity and for the preservation of anti-SLAPP laws.

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 Boston Globe, WBUR and Boston University.