Institute Offers Hands-On FOI, Investigative Training Sept. 30 to Oct. 2
“We took everything we learned from our first year and integrated it into a more hands-on approach to learning for this year’s program,” said Rosanna Cavanagh, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. She also pointed to a Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 program faculty studded with Pulitzer Prize, Emmy and Peabody Award winners and top media law and First Amendment attorneys.
New England First Amendment Institute
Some changes based on feedback from last year’s debut Institute will be longer break-out sessions to allow for hands-on learning, problem solving and role playing. Also new this year will be beat-specific group lunches.
“A packed schedule left fellows with little time to chat among themselves, especially on passion topics, so we’re providing that time,” Cavanagh said.
Tables for the one-hour lunches will be organized around beats and will include a NEFAC board member. Fellows will be able to join their colleagues for an informal conversation on a topic of greatest interest.
“The institute will educate a select group of New England journalists in how to be open government watchdogs in their communities and how to report their findings to the public,” NEFAC President Mary Jane Wilkinson said. “Our goal is to prepare them to take on leadership roles in their newsrooms on FOI issues.”
It’s presented by NEFAC and Northeastern’s Initiative for Investigative Reporting.
Typical of the pragmatic grounding of the program are the break-out sessions for each New England state on open meeting and public records laws conducted by veteran attorneys, educators and editors.
“This gives the fellows information they can immediately put to use in their home states on issues that arise nearly every day,” Cavanagh said. “They can then become the go-to people in their newsrooms on open government.”
Taking part in the breakouts, by state, will be:
- Connecticut – Mitchell Pearlman, former FOIC Chairman, lecturer University of Connecticut, and Lynne DeLucia, editor of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team.
- Maine - Sigmund D. Schutz, Partner, PretiFlaherty, and Mo Mehlsak, editor of The Forecaster, Falmouth, Maine.
- Massachusetts – Peter J. Caruso, Managing Partner, Caruso & Caruso, and Ebony Reed, AP assistant chief of bureau for New England.
- New Hampshire – Gregory V. Sullivan, Partner and President, Malloy & Sullivan, and William L. Chapman, Partner, Orr & Reno.
- Rhode Island – Joseph V. Cavanagh Jr., Managing Partner, Blish & Cavanagh, and Laura Crimaldi, formerly of The Associated Press, Providence, now of Boston.com.
- Vermont – Dan Barrett, staff attorney with the ACLU of Vermont and Tom Kearney managing editor of Stowe Reporter and Waterbury Record.
Michael Oreskes, Senior Managing Editor of The Associated Press and supervisor of the team that won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting on police spying in New York mosques, will open the program with an address on “The Importance of Access to Information For Maintaining our Basic Freedoms.”
Here’s just a sampling of the professionals who will follow over the next few days and the range of topics:
- Sara Ganim, a 24-year-old reporter from the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Penn., on her Pulitzer winning coverage of the Penn State abuse scandal.
- Dick Lehr, author, former Globe investigative reporter, Pulitzer finalist and Boston University professor, on using narrative flow to enhance investigative reporting.
- Tim White and Ted Nesi of the Emmy Award winning WPRI 12 in Providence on the anatomy of an investigative piece from start to finish.
- Mark Horvit, executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, on using social media in investigations.
- Susan Snyder of the Philadelphia Inquirer and a Pulitzer winner for coverage of violence in Philadelphia schools and Joe Bergantino, co-director of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Emmy winner, former WBZ-TV I-Team member and former correspondent for ABC News, are on a panel telling “Tales from the Trenches.”
- Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant, a Pulitzer finalist for work on the suicide rate of U.S. military personnel, on database reporting.
- Attorneys Elizabeth Ritvo and Robert Bertsche of Boston and Lea Thompson, former Dateline NBC correspondent, on the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The program is supported by a grant from the McLean Contributionship on behalf of The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H.
Applications will be accepted until Aug. 15 from journalists at all career levels with a demonstrated interest in investigative work and right-to-know issues, and successful applicants will be notified by Aug. 30.