NEFAC to Teach First Amendment, Journalism at Rhode Island Library Association Conference

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition will be at the Rhode Island Library Annual Conference to provide presentations on First Amendment law and common challenges faced by local journalists.

The conference will be May 24-25 at the Providence Public Library. NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman will be teaching First Amendment 101: Common Exceptions to Free Speech Protection at 10:15 a.m. on May 25 and then will join NEFAC’s Ed Fitzpatrick at 2:30 p.m. to discuss threats to local journalism. Both presentations are part of the coalition’s First Amendment and the Free Press program.

Rhode Island Library Annual Conference
May 25 | Providence Public Library

First Amendment 101: Common Exceptions to Free Speech Protection
While the First Amendment protects our right to free speech, that protection is not absolute. This discussion will address common exceptions to our right to free speech and explore the seminal cases that helped shape the boundaries of First Amendment protection. Attendees will be introduced to the legal concepts of incitement, libel, obscenity and true threats, among others.

Current Challenges to Local Journalism and the Free Press
Learn about the adversity reporters face when covering their communities and explore ways newsrooms can better meet their obligations to readers, viewers and listeners. This session is an open conversation with a local journalist and intends to give attendees a better understanding of how reporters do their job and why their work is so critical to our democracy.


Edward Fitzpatrick | Fitzpatrick is a Boston Globe staff writer covering Rhode Island. He worked for 16 years at the Providence Journal, including eight years as the political columnist and five years as the courts reporter.

Justin Silverman | Silverman is executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. A Massachusetts-based attorney, Justin helps lead NEFAC’s First Amendment and open government advocacy throughout the six-state region.

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, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Champa Charitable Foundation Fund, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.