- NENPA University
Legal Help with FOI Now Available Through NEFAC
New England First Amendment Coalition
urges media outlets to use its free legal resources
In the wake of a national survey that showed a decline in freedom of information lawsuits, the New England First Amendment Coalition is urging publishers and editors to take advantage of its free legal resources for help in the pursuit of government information.
NEFAC chapter organizations at Suffolk Law School and New England Law Boston are poised to offer free legal assistance to media outlets seeking government compliance with information requests.
"Diminishing resources are having a negative effect on the media’s ability to get the information they’re seeking. That’s exactly the vacuum that our free legal resources can fill,” Executive Director Rose Cavanagh said.
A survey conducted by the Media Law Resource Center and the National Freedom of Information Coalition, found that news organizations, hampered primarily by a lack of resources, are increasingly less likely to bring lawsuits to enforce compliance under state and federal freedom of information laws.
At the same time, the study showed that the American public is displaying a growing interest in government transparency and citizens are becoming more active in asserting their right to government information.
“We’re presented with the contrary forces of the public wanting to know more and the media becoming less able to gather the desired information. We want to help news organizations, particularly those with scant resources, to force local, state and federal governments to provide the information the public is entitled to,” Cavanagh said.
The NEFAC chapter organizations will assist members of the media and the public to assert their rights to information under state records and open meeting acts and the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Those interested in exploring NEFAC’s chapter resources should contact Chau Trinh at Suffolk Law School (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robert McGovern at New England Law Boston (email@example.com).
The survey was conducted through online interviews and was released on August 23. The full release is available here http://www.nfoic.org/survey-says-people-want-more-open-government.
The goal of the New England First Amendment Coalition and its academic partners is to defend, promote and expand public access to government and the work it does. Its members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians and academicians, as well as private citizens and organizations whose core beliefs include the principles of the First Amendment.