By Jennifer McDermott, reporter, The Day, New London, Conn.
NEW LONDON, CONN. – Before it was a “Google barge,” it was New London’s mystery barge. Construction on the four-story structure began in the late spring at the Admiral Harold E. Shear State Pier near downtown New London.
One of the early theories among staff at The Day and the readers who called us asking about the construction was that the building was a facility for Defense Department research. Groton, which is next to New London, is known as the “Submarine Capital of the World” because it is home to a Naval Submarine Base and submarine manufacturer Electric Boat. Others believed it was a movie set, floating prison, condominiums or office space. Proponents of the jail theory even jokingly suggested it could house super villains.
As the paper’s defense reporter, I was asked to figure it out.
I first e-mailed a source at the state Department of Transportation, since that department is responsible for the pier. I expected a quick reply explaining the nature of the project.
Instead I was told there was “vertical construction” being added to a barge by “a company” leasing dock space. He acknowledged his response was “a bit vague” but said that was all he could provide, “at the request of the Lessee.” Continue reading ‘Barge! What barge!? Oh, that barge!’ »
By Rosanna Cavanagh, executive director, New England First Amendment Coalition
Have you noticed lately that it seems we are taking a trip down the rabbit hole when it comes to citizen privacy versus the public’s right to know? The new norm has become that we citizens have no reasonable expectation of privacy (witness the NSA’s amassing of warehouses of information about us) but the government that we elect and support with our tax dollars has every expectation of privacy and shutting the public out has become the new norm (see the recent report by the international group, the Committee to Protect Journalists).
Is this the way a democratic society is supposed to function or have we somehow landed in Alice in Wonderland where everything is flabberghastingly backwards? Shouldn’t private citizens have some legitimate expectation of privacy and the government behave in a more open and transparent way?
This past week, New England First Amendment Coalition joined 38 other groups, including The Associated Press and the White House News Photographers Association, in the latest challenge to this disturbing trend of the diminishing public view, calling on the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, to improve their policy towards photojournalists who are continually being denied access to photograph or videotape the president while he is performing seemingly official functions at the White House. Continue reading ‘The diminishing public view’ »
Dear right-to-know advocates:
We’ve been busy this year shining a light on what our elected and appointed officials are doing, or not doing, on our behalf, and it’s time again to ask you to help the New England First Amendment Coalition continue that mission.
The KnowNewEngland site provides a wealth of information on right-to-know activities. The monthly NEFAC Report sustains a conversation across New England and beyond on open-government battles waged and victories won as does the blog managed with our academic partners at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism.
And our signature event – the annual New England First Amendment Institute – matches selected fellows from across the region with a faculty studded with Pulitzer Prize winners to sharpen watchdog skills.
How valuable are those sessions held Sept. 29 – Oct.1 at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s headquarters in Dedham, Mass.?
Click on the video at left to hear Martine Powers of The Boston Globe tell in her own words about the lasting benefits she gained from the 2012 Institute.
If you’re motivated to give now to support NEFAC’s work spreading the gospel of open government, go to our special annual appeal site for the perks available from our partners across New England for a modest donation. You’ll also find more detailed information about NEFAC, the Insitute and our mission. Continue reading ‘NEFAC seeks support in 2013 appeal’ »
By William J. Kole, New England bureau chief, The Associated Press
BOSTON – It’s journalism’s dirty little secret: Just because we have information doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to use it.
When The Associated Press asked officials in Newtown, Conn., for the tapes of 911 calls made during last December’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it touched off a debate pitting privacy rights against the public’s right to know.
Newtown’s police department denied the request, and the AP appealed to the state Freedom of Information Commission. On Sept. 25, the commission ruled in favor of AP and ordered the tapes’ release.
That won’t happen until Connecticut’s courts rule on an appeal by Stephen Sedensky III, the prosecutor leading the investigation into the rampage, which killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders. Continue reading ‘Why the AP wants the Sandy Hook 911 calls’ »