November 2013    
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  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

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NEFAC Report Bids Larry Laughlin Adieu
By NEFAC Staff
   CONCORD, NH -  After publishing 45 consecutive monthly issues of the NEFAC Report,  Larry Laughlin, who served as Northern Bureau Chief for The Associated Press through 2009, and founding Board member of NEFAC until 2012, is saying "farewell" to NEFAC and joining the ranks of the "jubilados," Spanish for "the jubilant ones," otherwise known as retired persons.  
    We will miss Larry greatly, but his passion for open government and his vision for our organization and especially for the NEFAC Report, his brainchild, will remain with us to guide us in the months and years to come.   As a long time Executive Committee member, who has aided the organization since its inception in 2006, Larry's purposefulness, sense of humor and constancy have been great assets to our organization.
      Thank you, Larry!  

Keep up with First Amendment issues via NEFAC's blog
 It's a forum for citizens, journalists, students, public policy advocates and government officials to have their say on First Amendment issues.
   The blog is maintained by NEFAC's volunteer Board Members as a collaboration with the First Amendment Center at Northeastern University.
   Submit comments to Laura Crimaldi:

The Diminishing Public View  

By Rosanna Cavanagh
   Have you noticed lately that it seems we are taking a trip down the rabbit hole when it comes to citizen privacy versus the public's right to 
 cavanagh,rose   know? The new norm has become that we citizens have no reasonable expectation of privacy (witness the NSA's amassing of warehouses of information about  

us) but the government that we elect and support with our tax dollars has every expectation of privacy and shutting the public out has become the new norm (see the recent report by the international group, the Committee to Protect Journalists). Is this the way a democratic society is supposed to function or have we somehow landed in Alice in Wonderland where everything is flabberghastingly backwards? Shouldn't private citizens have some legitimate expectation of privacy and the government behave in a more open and transparent way?

    This past week, New England First Amendment Coalition joined 38 other groups, including The Associated Press and the White House News Photographers Association, in the latest challenge to this disturbing trend of the diminishing public view, calling on the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, to improve their policy towards  photojournalists who are continually being denied access to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing seemingly official functions at the White House. "As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist's camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive Branch of government," the letter protests. Meanwhile, the White House has taken to releasing its own photographs of the "private" events on social media, undercutting the contention that the event should be deemed private after all.  Read more


Barge? What Barge!? Oh, That Barge!

By Jennifer McDermott

   NEW LONDON, CONN -  Before it was a "Google barge," it was New London's mystery barge.  Construction on the four-story structure began

in the late spring at the Admiral Harold E. Shear State Pier near downtown New London.

     One of the early theories among staff at The Day and the readers who called us asking about the construction was that the building was a facility for Defense Department research. Groton, which is next to New London, is known as the "Submarine Capital of the World" because it is home to a Naval Submarine Base and submarine manufacturer Electric Boat. Others believed it was a movie set, floating prison, condominiums or office space. Proponents of the jail theory even jokingly suggested it could house supervillains.

     As the paper's defense reporter, I was asked to figure it out.

I first e-mailed a source at the state Department of Transportation, since that department is responsible for the pier. I expected a quick reply explaining the nature of the project.  Read more

Indiegogo Campaign Underway to Fund New England First Amendment Institute
By Justin Silverman
     BOSTON, Mass. - Crowdfunding is a creative way to connect with those who value - and who are willing to financially support - the work we do; NEFAC has launched its first crowdfunding effort on the Indiegogo website to advance our cause of offering high quality training to New England journalists.  Until December 27, we will be accepting donations on Indiegogo to help grow our New England First Amendment Institute, an intensive training course on freedom of information laws and investigative techniques. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to help us better educate journalists throughout the region and improve the institute's programming. With just about a month remaining in our campaign, we are nearly one-fifth of the way there.
     Crowdfunding also provides unique ways to give back to our supporters. While even the smallest donations are appreciated, those who give at least $35 will receive a "perk", ranging from a NEFAC wristband to a backstage pass at a TV station to a cocktail and dinner reception for the donor, eight of his or her friends and Sevellon Brown Award winning investigative reporter (and NEFAC board member) Michael Donoghue of the Burlington Free Press. But as those who value investigative journalism know, the perks are simply a way for us to say "thank you."  The real payoff for helping our campaign is the continued success of New England journalists and the opportunity to make their newsrooms stronger. 
   We welcome contributions to The NEFAC Report from journalists, lawyers, academics or other advocates of government transparency.
   If you have something to add to the conversation, please let us know. Your  stories, experiences and commentaries have broad appeal and value. - Rose Cavanagh, Executive Director NEFAC, [email protected].