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NEFAC seeks nominations for annual citizenship and FOI awards

The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking applications for a pair of annual awards to recognize both private citizens and professional journalists who aggressively advance the people’s knowledge of what government is doing – or failing to do – on their behalf.

The Antonia Orfield Citizenship Award and the FOI Award will be presented at NEFAC’s annual luncheon Feb. 7 in Boston.  Candidates for the Citizenship Award should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty in obtaining information of which the public has a right to know. Both awards will be presented to New Englanders for activity in the six-state region in calendar year 2013.

Nominations for the Citizenship Award are due Jan. 8 and can be made by submitting these forms by email to rosecavanagh.nefac@gmail.com or  by fax to 401.751.7542. 

Rosanna Cavanagh, NEFAC’s Executive Director, said that the FOI Award will be a recognition of journalism at its best, working to bring the sometimes shadowy workings of the government into the light of day. Work in broadcast, online or print media is eligible.  It will be given to a New England journalist for work that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law. Preference will be given to applicants who overcome significant official resistance.

Applicants for the FOI Award should submit their story or series along with a cover letter explaining the process of getting the story, why it was a significant accomplishment and how it affected the public. Entries, which also are due by Jan. 8, may be submitted electronically. The entry forms are here

NEFAC will honor James Risen, investigative reporter for The New York Times, with the fourth annual Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award at the luncheon. Risen, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who’s done ground-breaking work on domestic spying, now faces legal peril for refusing to disclose the source for his account of a failed CIA operation in Iran. The Hamblett Award is named for the late chairman and publisher of the Providence Journal.  Previous recipients include Philip Balboni, co-founder of GlobalPost; Martin Baron, former editor of The Boston Globe and now executive editor of The Washington Post; and the late Anthony Lewis, longtime columnist for The New York Times.

The luncheon will be held in conjunction with the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s 2014 convention and trade show at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.