NEFAC Pushes for Better Media Access After Maine CDC Bars Organizations from Press Briefings

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition today called on the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to cease barring reporters its considers “advocacy journalists” from its press briefings.

Last week state CDC officials barred the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine Policy Institute from its press briefing, justifying the decision by calling representatives from both organizations “advocacy journalists.” The CDC later reversed its decision for the next press briefing but made no assurances that access for the two organizations would continue.

NEFAC sent a letter on Oct. 14 to CDC Communications Director Robert Long that was also forwarded to Scott Ogden, communications director for Gov. Janet Mills. In the letter, NEFAC requested that the center confirm that access to press briefings will be granted to any media organization subject only to content- and viewpoint-neutral restrictions.

“Confirming such a practice would provide protection for not just so-called ‘advocacy journalists’ but for all newsrooms that might be denied access to briefings based on political allegiances or sensibilities apt to change with each administration,” NEFAC wrote.

In its letter, NEFAC explained that:

At a time when officials at all levels of government throughout the country are using terms such as “fake news” to dismiss unfavorable coverage, a label like “advocacy journalist” can be used as a similar pejorative to punish news organizations for their reporting. . . . The First Amendment does not tolerate this type of political influence on press freedom.

NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. The coalition regularly writes and joins advocacy letters in cases involving First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, advocacy letters and statements 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.

Leadership Circle donors for 2021 include Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, WBUR-Boston and the Academy of New England Journalists.