Public access has a face. It’s the face of ordinary citizens trying to understand their government in order to make an informed decision or to expose a wrong.
Boston resident Michael A. Champa shared these words in February after receiving NEFAC’s 2016 Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award. Champa recently prevailed in a public records case that he fought all the way up to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. That fight for information, he said, is “a discovery process, often dearly earned and grounded in a basic American right to unfettered access to their government.”
Across New England, that right is challenged every day. But with your help, NEFAC is defending the public’s right to know and advocating for the First Amendment freedoms of every New Englander. Here’s just a small sample of what NEFAC is doing for you:
Leading journalism trainings and panel discussions on freedom of information concerns. Every fall, we provide a three-day investigative journalism institute for 25 New England reporters, at no cost to those journalists. Our board members have spoken at recent conferences in Boston, Hartford (Conn.) and Manchester (N.H.) among other cities. When we’re not discussing ways to be better journalists, we’re debating topics such as police body camera policies and right-to-know laws in all six New England states.
Arguing in defense of the First Amendment and the public’s right to know. Since the beginning of 2015, we have written and filed several amicus briefs in important First Amendment cases and joined many more in support of other written legal briefs. We’re making sure that your voice is heard. NEFAC is protecting your interests in court cases throughout the region.
Recognizing First Amendment heroes in New England. At our annual New England First Amendment Awards luncheon this year, we recognized Champa for his public records victory, honored Jenifer McKim of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting with our Freedom of Information Award and presented U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont with our Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award. Whether by a private citizen, journalist or senior senator, the work being done on behalf of the public’s right to know is pure inspiration.
That’s just a sampling of our coalition’s work. Here is our 2015 Annual Review, a short summary of the many ways NEFAC worked on your behalf last year and the many individuals, foundations, businesses and groups who helped make it all happen. Please take a few moments to read about our coalition’s work and join our growing list of supporters. If you have donated in the past, we hope you’ll do so again. Your financial support is vital to the work we do.
Please make a donation today and ask your employer if they will match your generosity.
On behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition, thank you for helping us advocate for the First Amendment and put a face on public access. These are rights that need defending.
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. Donations can be made here. Major Supporters of NEFAC for this year include The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Boston Globe and Boston University.