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FIRST AMENDMENT
OF U.S. CONSTITUTION 

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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2016 MAJOR SUPPORTERS
 



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Voters Can Now Take Ballot Selfies in New Hampshire | Fortune 9.29.16 Both the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also filed amicus briefs, saying that "the issue of voter intimidation was overblown in this case," according to the Times. "There isn't much evidence, if any at all, that this kind of activity is actually occurring," Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, told the Times.

'Ballot Selfies' Get Federal Court Blessing | CNN 9.29.16 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Keene Sentinel and the New England First Amendment Coalition also filed briefs in opposition to the law.

Appeals Court Overturns Ban on Selfies in Voting Booths | The Wall Street Journal 9.28.16 A coalition that included the social media company Snapchat Inc., the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the New England First Amendment Coalition filed briefs in support of the New Hampshire voters who sued in 2014 to challenge the ban.

Two other organizations, the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, also filed amicus briefs and said that the issue of voter intimidation was overblown in this case. "There isn't much evidence, if any at all, that this kind of activity is actually occurring," Justin Silverman, the executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition, told The Times in April.

Transparency Group Calls For Release Footage (audio) | VPR-Vermont Public Radio 9.21.16 The New England First Amendment Coalition is calling on authorities to release body camera footage of the incident so the public gets an objective view of what happened. Mike Donoghue is the vice president of the organization, and he says police regularly release footage during investigations. "When there's a bank robbery, when there's assaults, when there's store burglaries, they're frequently turning over video that's going to be, quote, 'evidence,'" Donoghue says.

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. Please email submissions to [email protected]



 



 NEFAC REPORT | October 2016
Annual Appeal - Please Support NEFAC
The New England First Amendment Coalition is celebrating 10 years of open government First Amendment advocacy. Since 2006, we have strengthened newsrooms and informed communities, trained journalists and assisted citizens concerned about their government. We have filed amicus briefs in important court cases and recognized the many First Amendment heroes throughout New England. We've been able to do all this thanks to generous supporters like you. Please show your support of NEFAC and make a donation today. [Donate]

New England First Amendment Institute
Annual Institute Strengthens New England Journalism, Addresses Future of Profession
Featured Bill Keller of The Marshall Project, Syracuse University's Jodi Upton, Gene Policinski of the Newseum
The sixth annual New England First Amendment Institute concluded this month, bringing to a close three days of investigative journalism workshops, discussions and lectures. The New England First Amendment Coalition provides the institute each year and selects 25 journalism fellows from the region to attend at no cost. Funding for this year's institute came from the Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund. Sponsors and other supporters include The Boston Globe, The Robertson Foundation, the Academy of New England Journalists, the New England Newspaper & Press Association and ABC News. [More] [Program] [Photos] [Storify]

NEFAC News
VIDEO: Legal and Ethical Issues Facing Newsrooms; First Amendment, Privacy Law
The New England First Amendment Coalition recently presented a panel discussion on the latest legal and ethical issues within local newsrooms. The program occurred during the New England Newspaper & Press Association's fall conference. The video is now available to view for free though a $10 donation is suggested.

Presenters on the Oct. 6 panel were Peter Caruso, Sr., an Andover-based media attorney; Michael Donoghue, an investigative reporter who spent nearly 40 years at the Burlington Free Press; and Gregory V. Sullivan, legal counsel for the New Hampshire Union Leader. All three are members of NEFAC's board of directors. [More] [Donate] [Video]

NEFAC, Media Groups to White House: 
We Will Continue to Fight for Transparency

              Sept. 12 Letter
The New England First Amendment Coalition recently joined 39 journalism and open government groups to send a letter to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responding to his New York Times letter to the editor. In the letter, Earnest calls on journalists to give President Obama credit for improvements in government transparency. The Society of Professional Journalists drafted the letter which was sent on Sept. 12. NEFAC, SPJ and other journalism and government accountability groups have contacted the White House multiple times over the past several years, asking the Obama administration to stop practices in federal agencies that obscure transparency and prevent important information from getting to the public. In the last letter, from August 2015, more than 50 organizations signed on in support. [More] [Read Letter]

NEFAC Blog
Despite 'Egregious' Non-Compliance with Maine FOAA, Less Than a Quarter of All Legislative Candidates Agree to Sign Transparency Pledge
Maine has had a strong Freedom of Access Act for over 20 years. Although there are exceptions to the Act, as a general principle the FOAA provides that "public proceedings exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business." Unfortunately, the spirit and sometimes the letter of this law are not always observed in practice. In recent years, there has been some very egregious non-compliance with the law both by the executive and legislative branches of state government. Against this backdrop, the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition repeated an effort it made in some earlier elections. MFOIC asked all candidates for the state legislature to sign a pledge supporting open government. All 365 legislative candidates were mailed the pledge and asked whether they would be willing to commit to it. Of the 365 candidates, 86 said they were willing to sign the pledge. [More]

            Additional Coverage
FOI Litigation Fund
The following is a message from the National Freedom of Information Coalition, a partner of NEFAC:

Having your FOI request denied may leave no other option than pursuing legal action against the rejecting public agency or official. The National Freedom of Information Coalition offers financial support to litigate open
government lawsuits through the Knight FOI Litigation FundBacked by a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, the fund helps to defray upfront costs such as filing fees, depositions, court costs and other expenses associated with legal actions. Applications may be submitted through your state FOI coalition or directly to NFOIC. [More]

Other FOI and First Amendment News
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       Connecticut
       Maine
       Massachusetts