In order for the press to be free, information must be accessible. Throughout New England, reporters and editors are faced with a lack of government transparency. Public record requests are denied and freedom of information laws are being stripped down by an ever-growing list of exemptions. The citizens of New England need a responsible and free press, but the laws governing the right to know are handcuffing our region’s watchdogs.
Please consider becoming a member of the New England First Amendment Coalition. NEFAC is a nonprofit organization founded by newspaper executives and first amendment attorneys who believe in open government and the power of the press. Here is a sampling of the important work we do:
- NEFAC conducts its annual New England First Amendment Institute each fall, an intensive training course on freedom of information laws and investigative techniques. The institute is taught by a stellar faculty, including several Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and is available to 25 reporters and editors selected from throughout the region.
- We offer members exclusive training sessions at their organization, providing educational workshops on public access issues.
- NEFAC files and signs onto amicus briefs addressing important issues. We signed onto briefs that helped the New Hampshire Union Leader gain access to the names of the state’s top 500 pensioners, aided the Patriot Ledger open an impounded affidavit in support of a state police search warrant, and encouraged the distribution of government motions, court orders and transcripts of the closely-watched Bradley Manning trial.
- NEFAC advocates for improved laws related to access. We have testified on important legislative reforms such as the revised Access to Public Records Act in Rhode Island, proposed changes to the Massachusetts Public Records Act, and changes to New Hampshire and Vermont public records law. We also publish white papers on cutting-edge access issues.
- NEFAC has partnered with Suffolk University Law School, helping it students provide legal aid to newspapers and private citizens. These students are trained to research public access laws by our staff.
- We publish the monthly NEFAC Report, a newsletter with original reporting on FOI and First Amendment issues across New England.
As a NEFAC member, you will become part of a collective effort to tip the balance in our region in favor of transparency. You will learn from our research and experience, and we hope to gain a similar benefit from you.