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Presenting the 16th Annual Muzzle Awards

d_kennedyBy Dan Kennedy, assistant professor of journalism, Northeastern University

When The Boston Phoenix ceased publication in March, I started casting about for a new home for the Muzzle Awards — an annual Fourth of July round-up of outrages against free speech in New England that I began writing in 1998, when I was on staff at the Phoenix.

This week we made it official, as the 16th Annual Muzzle Awards were published on Thursday by WGBH News. The Muzzles were also published in The Providence Phoenix and The Portland Phoenix, which are still alive and well.

This year’s compilation begins with an overview of President Barack Obama’s disappointing record on free speech and civil liberties before moving on to more local matters, including U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s prosecution (and persecution) of the late Internet visionary Aaron Swartz and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis’ spying on antiwar and Occupy activists.

I think WGBHNews.org will prove to be a good home base for the Muzzles. Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate, who came up with the idea all those years ago, is continuing with his Campus Muzzles. Former Phoenix editor Peter Kadzis, who’s now at WGBH, was instrumental in bringing the Muzzles to the station and expertly edited them. Also playing key roles were Phil Redo, managing director of WGBH’s radio operations; Linda Polach, executive producer of “Greater Boston” and “Beat the Press”; and Abbie Ruzicka and Brendan Lynch, who handled Web production duties.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes …