NEFAC Seeks Nominations for 2023 Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominations for its 2023 Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award.

The FOI Award is given each year to a New England journalist or team of journalists for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference is given to those who overcome significant official resistance.

Nomination form here.

The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2023.

The award will be presented at NEFAC’s 13th annual New England First Amendment Awards. This year’s ceremony is a private invitation-only event at 7 p.m. in Boston on June 1.

Sponsors and Supporters Include

Also to be presented at the ceremony are the Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award and the Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award.

The Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal, is given to an individual who has promoted, defended or advocated for the First Amendment.

The Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award is given to an individual who has fought for information crucial to the public’s understanding of what its government is doing — or not doing — on its behalf. The nomination form for the Citizenship Award can be found here.

The FOI Award is named for Michael Donoghue who worked for more than 40 years at the Burlington Free Press and previously served on NEFAC’s Board of Directors. He was selected as the 2013 New England Journalist of the Year by the New England Society of News Editors and in 2015 received the Matthew Lyon First Amendment Award. He has been an adjunct professor of journalism and mass communications at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. since 1985.

Previous recipients of the FOI Award include:

2022 Worcester Telegram & Gazette | The Telegram & Gazette prevailed in a multi-year legal battle against the Worcester Police Department for access to internal affairs reports. A judge in the case awarded punitive damages — the first time a court has done so since the Massachusetts public records law was reformed in 2016.

2021 Bangor Daily News | A Bangor Daily News investigation into the misconduct of police and corrections officers in Maine led to at least three legislative proposals to institute more oversight over law enforcement in the state.

2020 Hearst Connecticut Media Group | The team at Hearst spent six months digging through 1,600 pages of public documents and filing more than 100 public record requests to investigate abuse allegations connected to the Boys & Girls Clubs.

2019 Hartford Courant | The Courant successfully fought for information related to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

2018 Todd Wallack | Reporting for The Boston Globe, Wallack covered stories about online accessibility to criminal records, transparency within the MBTA and the overuse of certain public record law exemptions to keep information secret.

2017 The Sun Journal | When Maine courts instituted a new procedure for sealing court records in violation of state law, The Sun Journal successfully fought for its reversal.

2016 Jenifer McKim | As a reporter for the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, McKim overcame significant freedom of information challenges to write “Out of the Shadows,” a 2015 series about child abuse and neglect.

2015 James W. Foley (posthumously) | A seasoned war correspondent, New Hampshire native Foley committed himself to the truth and, in his words, “exposing untold stories.” While working in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, Foley reported on the lives of those disadvantaged and suffering.

2014 Brent Curtis | A reporter for the Rutland (Vt.) Herald, Curtis fought for access to certain police records and helped make Vermont police departments more transparent.

2013 Don Stacom | Stacom of the Hartford Courant pursued stories about police misconduct through the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, prompting a shakeup of the New Britain, Conn., police department.

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 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 for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.