Mission

The goal of the New England First Amendment Coalition is to defend, promote and expand public access to government and the work it does. The coalition is a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of transparency in a democratic society. Its members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians and academicians, as well as private citizens and organizations whose core beliefs include the principles of the First Amendment. The coalition aspires to advance and protect the five freedoms of the First Amendment, and the principle of the public’s right to know, in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. In collaboration with other like-minded advocacy organizations, NEFAC also seeks to advance understanding of the First Amendment across the nation and freedom of speech and press issues around the world.

History

The New England First Amendment Coalition was formed in 2006 by a group of journalists concerned that citizens, to say nothing of reporters, are routinely denied access to the work of government: public documents, meetings, hearings. Efforts in each of the six New England states to combat this growing trend had been marginally effective. But the founders saw a need for a unified, region-wide organization, one that would speak in one, robust voice across the six New England states.

The founders, at the outset newspaper editors with decades of experience battling for public access to government, received non-profit status as the New England First Amendment Coalition. They were soon joined by editors from around the region. Each could cite a steady erosion of laws designed to guarantee transparency in government.