Dear Friend of the First Amendment,
As the year comes to a close, I’m writing to thank you for your support of the New England First Amendment Coalition. With your help, we have worked hard during the last 12 months to protect First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know. Here’s just a sampling of what we accomplished:
Giving Our Watchdogs More Bite
Twenty-three of the region’s best and brightest journalists attended our fourth annual New England First Amendment Institute. They learned from some of the country’s elite editors and reporters, such as Marty Kaiser of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post. During the three-day institute, these journalism fellows learned how to better access information, break important stories and become tougher watchdogs. They were able to attend the institute — called “inspiring,” “motivating,” and “engaging” — at no cost. [Learn More]
Spotlighting First Amendment Threats
When a Connecticut state judge recently barred a newspaper from publishing information found in public records, we immediately reacted. We helped form a coalition of media organizations to speak out against such prior restraints, widely considered the “most serious and least tolerable infringements on First Amendment rights.” [Learn More]
Recognizing First Amendment Heroism
James Risen of The New York Times accepted our annual Stephen Hamblett Award, discussing his battle against the U.S. Dept. of Justice to keep a source confidential. “The choice is get out of the business — give up everything I believe in — or go to jail,” Risen told those attending our awards luncheon. “They’ve backed me into a corner.” Our coalition later wrote to the Obama Administration demanding that it withdraw its subpoena against Risen. Said NEFAC’s Walter Robinson of The Boston Globe: “It is hard to imagine a more principled and patriotic defense of the First Amendment.” [Learn More]
Advocating Throughout New England
We teamed up with The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H., and the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in New Hampshire to host a free workshop on public records law. At St. Michael’s College in Vermont, we discussed the tension between personal privacy and the public’s right to know. After the highest court in Massachusetts prioritized individual privacy at the expense of public access to criminal records, it was a NEFAC director who called for action. NEFAC publicly criticized a Rhode Island Attorney General opinion that allows excessive fees for public record searches. We appeared before the Connecticut Legislature to voice concerns over a bill that would severely harm that state’s Freedom of Information Act. When Maine state employees were found to be using instant messaging as a way to skirt public records law, journalists and attorneys there turned to NEFAC to help publicize the news. [Learn More]
During the last year, NEFAC has helped raise awareness of these issues and kept the public informed. Our press coverage includes stories in the Providence Journal, the Darien (Conn.) Times, The Telegraph, The Boston Globe, the Detroit Free Press, the Portland Press Herald, the Boston Herald and by the Associated Press. We have also been mentioned on WPRI-Providence and on WGBH Radio.
We have done all this and so much more because of your continued support. On behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition, thank you.
Justin Silverman, Esq.
PLEASE REMEMBER NEFAC WHEN MAKING CHARITABLE GIFTS THIS YEAR