NEFAC’s Michael Donoghue to Be Honored for Advocacy of Student Journalism Protections in Vermont


CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition is pleased to announce that Michael Donoghue, the coalition’s vice president, will be honored with a national award for his work to protect student journalists in Vermont.

Donoghue, a former reporter for the Burlington Free Presswill receive a “Friend of Scholastic Journalism” award from the Journalism Education Association.

The award is in recognition of Donoghue’s work on behalf of NEFAC and other press advocates to pass legislation making it easier for high school and college students to report on controversial stories without fear of retaliation.

“Mike advocated relentlessly for student journalists and their teachers in the state,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director. “He’s a big reason why student newspapers can now report on topics important to them without being disciplined by administrators.”

The new law — signed by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on May 25 — protects student journalists from retaliation for writing articles that address controversial political issues. The law also prevents retaliation against the teachers and advisors of those students. Learn more about the law here.

On behalf of NEFAC, Donoghue testified April 4 in support of the law, saying that:

We want our students to be curious. To ask tough questions. Not to accept everything as truth without some confirmation. . . . These days  – when it’s tough to get a lot of kids interested in public policy – advocates for students think it would be smart to encourage them to write about public issues. This is one way to educate the citizens, and voters of tomorrow. We need students that can do strong research, can ask tough questions – even when it is a school official – and to present information and to properly follow up.

Donoghue, a longtime adjunct professor of journalism at St. Michael’s College, will be honored Nov. 18 at the Journalism Education Association’s high school journalism convention in Dallas.

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 for this year include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.