BRATTLEBORO -- The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking applications for a pair of annual awards to recognize both a private citizen and a professional journalist 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. Both awards are for activity during calendar year 2013.
Candidates for the Citizenship Award should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty in obtaining information of which the public had a right to know the truth. Nominations for the Citizenship Award are due Jan. 8 and can be made by submitting forms from the NEFAC website by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to (401) 751-7542.
NEFAC's Executive Director Rosanna Cavanagh said 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 print, broadcast or online 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.
Nominations for the FOI Award should include a news 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 on the NEFAC website.
NEFAC will honor James Risen, investigative reporter for the New York Times, with the fourth annual Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award also at the February 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 awards 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.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public's right to know the truth. It is a broad-based organization of lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians, academics and private citizens, who believe in the power of an informed democratic society.