Nominations sought for regional open-government awards

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The New England First Amendment Coalition is seeking nominations for a pair of annual awards recognizing 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. Both awards will be presented to New Englanders for activity in the six-state region in calendar year 2013.

Candidates for the Citizenship Award should have shown tenacity or bravery in the face of difficulty in obtaining information that the public has a right to know. Nominations for the award are due Jan. 8, and can be made by submitting these forms by email to or by fax to 401-751-7542.

Rosanna Cavanagh, NEFAC executive director, 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 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 available online.

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. Members include lawyers, journalists, historians, librarians, academics and private citizens.