By Chinyen Chang, Bulletin Staff
Massachusetts’ new public records law and its new requirement for newspapers to publish public notices online were discussed at the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association annual meeting Dec. 2.
The association also presented its 2016 MNPA Open Government Award to Massachusetts Sen. Joan B. Lovely, a Salem Democrat, and Massachusetts Rep. Peter V. Kocot, a Northampton Democrat. The award is given in honor of Bill Plante, former longtime executive director of the MNPA. The award recognizes accomplishments in government transparency.
Lovely and Kocot co-chaired the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight that produced the legislation that led to approval of the new Massachusetts public records law.
The association also re-elected six executive committee members and elected four officers and re-elected one at the annual meeting. George Arwady, publisher and chief executive officer of The Republican of Springfield, Mass., was elected president of the executive committee.
According to MNPA’s year-end legislative report, “the new public record law will significantly enhance the ability of citizens and journalists to obtain records on a timely basis at a reasonable cost and to enforce their rights when they are wrongfully denied access to public records.”
Another new law requires that all legal notices must appear not only in a newspaper’s print publication, but on the newspaper’s website and on a statewide website maintained as a repository for such notices.
In anticipation of the online provision for legal notices becoming law, MNPA launched a statewide website, masspublicnotices.org.
Re-elected for three-year terms beginning Jan. 1 to the MNPA’s executive committee were Arwady; Aaron Julien, president of Newspapers of New England, based in Concord, N.H., and publisher of the Concord Monitor and six other newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; Sean Burke, president and group publisher of GateHouse Media New England, based in Quincy, Mass., and the largest newspaper chain in New England with more than 100 newspapers; Peter Haggerty, publisher and president of the Woburn (Mass.) Daily Times; Jeff Peterson, publisher of The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro, Mass.; and Patrick J. Purcell, publisher of the Boston Herald.
Elected as officers for one-year terms officers besides Arwady were Karen E. Andreas, regional publisher of the North of Boston Media Group, based in North Andover, Mass., and publisher of 14 publications, including its flagship newspaper, The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, first vice president; Jane Seagrave, publisher of the Vineyard Gazette of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., second vice president; and Marianne R. Stanton, editor and publisher of The Inquirer and Mirror of Nantucket, Mass., secretary. Peter Meyer, president of the Cape Cod Media Group and SouthCoast Media Group, based in Hyannis, Mass., and publisher of the Cape Cod Times of Hyannis, The Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass., and five weeklies, was re-elected treasurer.
William B. Ketter, vice president of news of Birmingham, Ala.-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., parent company of the North of Boston Media Group, and outgoing president of MNPA’s executive committee, told the annual meeting: “I am delighted to report the state of the MNPA is in good shape. The public record law is an enormous accomplishment.”