Globe Editor Says Accountability Reporting the Foundation for Great Newspapers

By Zack Sampson


DEDHAM, Mass. – Though readers turn to newspapers for disparate reasons – arts, sports, politics, and more – it is investigative reporting that unites them, Boston Globe Editor Brian McGrory told a select group of New England journalists Sunday.

“The one area of journalism that crosses these divides and brings people together is our investigative reporting,” he said.

McGrory kicked off the New England First Amendment Coalition’s third annual Institute with a keynote address that both hailed watchdog reporting and bluntly acknowledged the financial disarray of the news industry.

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NEFAC Will Honor NY Times’ James Risen with Hamblett Award

CONTACT Rosanna Cavanagh | 401.331.7209


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -  James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who’s done ground-breaking work on domestic spying and now faces legal peril for refusing to disclose the source for his account of a failed CIA operation in Iran, will receive the 2014 Stephen Hamblett Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition.

An investigative reporter for The New York Times, Risen was told by a divided 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to identify his source and testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who’s charged with leaking classified information to Risen in violation of the Espionage Act, a dusty law cited with new frequency by the administration in efforts to crack down on leakers. Risen, despite the threat of imprisonment, has refused.

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Fellows Selected for 2013 NEFAC Institute

CONTACT Rosanna Cavanagh | 401.331.7209

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Journalists from a variety of media and all six New England states will gather in Dedham, Mass., Sept. 29-Oct. 1 to learn the latest investigative and database reporting techniques and public records access skills.

The fellows chosen for this, the New England First Amendment Coalition’s third annual Institute, reflect today’s diverse news media and come from daily and weekly newspapers, television and radio stations and online publications.

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Unsealed Spader Files Provide Insight into a Troubled Mind – and a Surprise

By Joseph Cote


NASHUA, N.H. – You never really know what a right-to-know request – or a motion to unseal documents – will turn up.

When The Telegraph filed a motion with the Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester to unseal documents prior to Steven Spader’s second sentencing hearing we expected to learn more about Spader.

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Who’s Counting? Globe Probe Raises Doubts on Public Meeting Quorums

By Todd Wallack


BOSTON – While writing a story recently about the Massachusetts state pharmacy board, I noticed something odd: Only half the board members showed up for a meeting last summer — too few for a quorum — but the board members went ahead with the meeting anyway and voted on one item after the next.

It turns out it was part of a much wider problem, raising questions about how frequently obscure boards comply with all the rules for public meetings throughout New England.

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Electronic Chatter Among Officials at Public Meetings Raises Issues of Transparency

By Jonathan Van Fleet

NASHUA, N.H. – When officials in Nashua came up with an idea to equip the city’s elected leaders with electronic tablets at public meetings to save costs on paper copies of documents, it seemed like a decent idea.

Except for one thing — keeping track of their electronic communication during public meetings.

As our open government laws struggle to keep up in an electronic age, the idea that Nashua’s top elected leaders on the Board of Aldermen could be chatting with each other through their Gmail accounts brings up a huge question of accountability. It’s a dilemma that could present itself in virtually any city hall in the country and it’s a challenge for the newsrooms that cover them. 

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Request for IDs Rejected by Court, Union Leader Ponders Next Move

By Joseph W. McQuaid


MANCHESTER, N.H. – When Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced nationally that it had arrested and was holding many illegal immigrants, New Hampshire’s statewide newspaper naturally wanted to know the identities of those arrested and details of the arrests made in the Granite State.

We were nonplussed by the government’s response: No. We don’t like to sue our government, especially for information we believe the public is entitled to.

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Public Has Right to a Glimpse into Killer’s Mind

By Joseph G. Cote


NASHUA, N.H. – We know a lot about Steven Spader, but unless a motion to unseal new court documents succeeds, some of the most vital information to understanding Spader’s gruesome crimes may never see the light of day.

It’s been more than three years since the now 21-year-old Spader led a group of small-town teenagers into Kimberly Cates’ Mont Vernon bedroom, hacked her to death with the help of Christopher Gribble and viciously attacked then-11-year-old Jaimie Cates.

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NEFAC Says Holder Should Return AP Phone Files, Train Justice Personnel on Subpoenas

By NEFAC Staff


The New England First Amendment Coalition registered “extreme dismay” at the government seizure of phone records of The Associated Press and urged Attorney General Eric Holder to work for passage of a federal shield law and take other steps to avert a repeat of the intrusion that was part of a probe into a security leak.

A letter from Rosanna Cavanagh, NEFAC’s executive director, to Holder and Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said the snooping into 20 AP bureau and personal phone lines “indicates that a failure of supervision or leadership has occurred on your watch.”

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Digital Journalism Must Focus on Traditional Media Virtues, Balboni Tells NEFAC Luncheon

By Larry Laughlin


The “relentless focus” on building an audience must not overwhelm digital journalism’s obligation to report complex issues and investigate public and private corruption, GlobalPost founder and CEO Philip Balboni said Wednesday.

“This is why we have First Amendment protections; and in order to preserve them digital journalism must live up to all its responsibilities,” Balboni told the New England First Amendment Coalition‘s annual awards luncheon in Boston.

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