ProPublica editor: Economics biggest threat to free press

ProPublica editor: Economics biggest threat to free press

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: BOSTON – ProPublica Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg wrote a grand total of two news stories during his college career, yet he somehow managed to land an internship right after graduation at The Providence Journal-Bulletin. Engelberg also wrote a bunch of sports stories in college, so when his beat-up old car chugged into Providence…

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Budget, staff cuts pose the main threat to our free press

Budget, staff cuts pose the main threat to our free press

BOSTON — Newsrooms are slashing budgets and shedding reporters, posing an even greater threat to the free press than the president’s near-daily attacks on the media, ProPublica Editor-in-Chief Stephen Engelberg told the New England First Amendment Coalition. “In 1998 there were more than 400,000 people employed by newspapers across the country,” Engelberg said. “Today, we’re at 140,000 and dropping.” Engelberg received the 2019 Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award at the annual NEFAC awards luncheon in Boston on Feb. 15. Named…

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Student journalists win battle against censorship

Student journalists win battle against censorship

Britney Dixon, RWU senior majoring in journalism: BOSTON — Exercising freedom of the press should be an easy act, no matter what age. For student journalists at Burlington (Vt.) High School, this was not the case. In 2018, editors from The Register, Burlington High School’s student-run newspaper, published an article stating that a guidance director at the school was under investigation and faced disciplinary charges from the Vermont Agency of Education. “We all made the decision together,” Editor Halle Newman…

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Documents provide insight into the mind of a murderer

Documents provide insight into the mind of a murderer

Megan Willgoos, RWU junior majoring in journalism: BOSTON — Five years after Dave Altimari filed a request for the records of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, the reporter accepted the Freedom of Information Award from the New England First Amendment Coalition on behalf of the Hartford Courant. On Dec. 9, 2018, Altimari and Josh Kovner published a story about Lanza based on more than 1,000 pages they pried loose in a long legal battle that ended with a 5-0 Connecticut…

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Fall River mayor took wrong cue with “Fake News” attack

Fall River mayor took wrong cue with “Fake News” attack

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: If President Donald Trump is teaching a new generation of politicians how to attack the reporters that cover them, then Fall River Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II is a star pupil. And if the late Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr. had ever offered a master class on how to respond…

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The First Amendment and the Foxy Lady

The First Amendment and the Foxy Lady

Jared A. Goldstein, RWU School of Law associate dean for academic affairs, professor and former U.S. Department of Justice attorney: The exotic dancing at the Foxy Lady will never be confused with the Bolshoi Ballet. Indeed, some would consider it “low value” speech and condemn it as demeaning to women, offensive and immoral. Yet, the fact that some members of society may frown on this type of expression provides no basis to suppress it. Courts must be especially vigilant to…

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A brutal year for the free press

A brutal year for the free press

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: In Mexico, a severed human head was left in a Styrofoam cooler outside the offices of the Expreso newspaper. In Slovakia, a 27-year-old journalist, Ján Kuciak, and his fiancée were gunned down in their house amid his investigation of a mafia organization. And in the most visible case, Washington Post contributing columnist…

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Recognizing the free press in the crosshairs across the globe

Recognizing the free press in the crosshairs across the globe

David A. Logan, professor of law and former dean of the RWU School of Law, who has studied and written extensively about First Amendment issues: TIME chose the right time to name four journalists and a newspaper as the magazine’s “Person of the Year.” This is an entirely appropriate salute to journalists who have the temerity to speak truth to power while facing arrest and even beheadings at the hands of governments unwilling to tolerate criticism. TIME also salutes a small Maryland…

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Press freedom under siege in Hungary

Press freedom under siege in Hungary

Noah Ashe, RWU junior majoring in journalism and political science: Taking a cue from Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his right-wing Fidesz party have been eroding basic human rights and freedoms in the country since coming to power in May 2010. This is nothing new. Europe is once again witnessing the rise of right-wing populist movements that are gaining seats in European legislatures and electing presidents and prime ministers with authoritarian tendencies. During…

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A real-world lesson in the value of press freedom

A real-world lesson in the value of press freedom

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, a New England First Amendment Coalition and Common Cause Rhode Island board member, and a former Providence Journal columnist: Assuming he was about to die, he handed the change from his bus fare to the woman sitting next to him. “Just take it,” he told her. “Just pray for me – pray for me.” As an eager young journalist, he’d been smashed with rifle butts and sliced with bayonets for daring…

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