Aaron Julien Elected MNPA President for 2013

Aaron Julien, president and CEO of Newspapers of New England, based in Concord, N.H., and publisher of seven daily and weekly newspapers, including the Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Recorder, the Valley Advocate and the Amherst Bulletin, has been elected president of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association.

A resident of Amherst, Mass., Julien is a graduate of Middlebury College and Cornell Law School.

Also elected as officers at the association’s annual meeting were:

  • First vice president: William B. Ketter, vice president of news of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., based in Montgomery, Ala., and owner of 15 New England newspapers, including the Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass.
  • Second vice president: George Arwady, publisher and chief executive officer of The Republican of Springfield, Mass.
  • Treasurer: Sheila Smith, publisher of The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.
  • Secretary: Bruce Gaultney, publisher of the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass.

Elected to the association’s executive committee for three-year terms beginning Jan. 1 were Jim Foudy, publisher of the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Mass.; William T. Kennedy, chief operating officer of the Dow Jones Local Media Group; and Peter Meyer, president of the Cape Cod Media Group and SouthCoast Media Group.

The annual meeting was held Nov. 29 at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston.

Please Join Us for the MNPA Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Please join us for the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston. A registration form is available by clicking here.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley will be the featured speaker at this year’s luncheon. Re-elected to her second term as attorney general in 2010, Coakley previously served for eight years as district attorney in Middlesex County. Earlier, she was chief of the Child Abuse Unit in Middlesex. She began her legal career in 1979, practicing litigation at the firms Parker, Coulter, Daley & White and later at Goodwin Proctor. She joined the Middlesex DA’s office in 1986 and also served on the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force.

The luncheon, which begins at noon, is also your annual opportunity to meet with newspaper publishers, editors, reporters and business staff from throughout Massachusetts.

The day’s full agenda is as follows:

  • 10 a.m. Annual business meeting and election of 2013 officers and executive board.
  • 11 a.m. Panel discussion: Is the Public Records Law in Need of Reform?
  • Noon Networking reception (open bar).
  • 12:30 p.m. Luncheon and keynote featuring Martha Coakley.
  • 1:30 p.m. Adjourn.

The meeting is open to anyone who would like to attend. Registration, which includes lunch, is $75 for MNPA member newspapers and their employees, $85 for all others.

The registration form is may be downloaded by clicking here. If mailing your registration without the form, please indicate the name of each registrant and the registrant’s choice of luncheon entrée: Chicken Chausseur or Broiled Scrod.

If you have any questions about the event, please address them to MNPA Executive Director Robert Ambrogi, (978) 546-3400, or info@masspublishers.org. Registration deadline is Friday, Nov. 23.

We look forward to seeing you on Nov. 29.

Governor Proclaims June 28 ‘Community Newspaper Day’

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick has issued a proclamation declaring today, June 28, to be Community Newspaper Day. See a PDF of the proclamation here: Community Newspaper Day.

The proclamation was issued, in part, to recognize the 175 birthday today of the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, one of the oldest continuously publishing newspapers in the United States.

The proclamation states:

Whereas Community newspapers have played an important role in the Commonwealth’s history by providing residents with a reliable source of relevant information and by helping them stay connected with the events and occurrences that affect their lives and those of their neighbors; and

Whereas Freedom of the Press, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, is a cornerstone of our democracy; and

Whereas Community newspapers promote government transparency and provide residents with important information related to the business of their local governments; and

Whereas The printed word unites the common man in pursuit of education and information and allows us all to recognize a stake in the community; and

Whereas Newspapers encourage civic engagement and serve as a forum for dialogue on issues important to local cities and towns by covering topics of interest to the community as a whole; and

Whereas Community newspapers help build stronger communities by recognizing residents’ achievements, celebrating the births and weddings of loved ones and neighbors, and showcasing local cultural and social events; and

Whereas Massachusetts is home to some of the longest circulating newspapers in the country, including the Patriot Ledger which celebrates 175 years of service to the City of Quincy and the communities of the south shore; and

Whereas On this day we recognize community newspapers and their many contributions to the rich fabric of the Commonwealth,

Now, Therefore, I, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim June 28th, 2012, to be ,

Community Newspaper Day

And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance.

SJC Issues New Rule on Cameras and Technology in Courtrooms

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has announced approval of a new SJC Rule 1:19 governing Electronic Access to the Courts. The new rule replaces the former rule, which governed cameras in the courts, and extends it to recognize changes in technology and journalism since the original rule was promulgated. Notably, the rule is designed to recognize so-called citizen journalists. A PDF of the new rule is here: SJC Rule 1:19.

The MNPA was part of the committee that helped draft this new rule. Others on the committee included judges, clerks, court administrators, lawyers, media representatives and bloggers. Key provisions of the new rule, as outlined in an SJC announcement today, include:

  • The news media are defined as those who are regularly engaged in the reporting and publishing of news or information about matters of public interest. This would include citizen journalists who meet this standard.
  • The news media are allowed to use laptop computers and other electronic communication devices inside courtrooms if they are not disruptive to the proceedings.
  • Those seeking to cover the courts using the permitted technology are required to register with the SJC’s Public Information Officer, confirm that they meet the definition of news media and agree to follow the provisions in Rule 1:19. A judge has the discretion to permit electronic access by a person who had not registered.
  • In addition to one video and one still camera, a second mechanically silent video camera is allowed for use by media other than broadcast television and still photographers.
  • Motions to suppress may be electronically recorded.
  • If news media ask to record multiple cases in a session on the same day, a judge may reasonably restrict the number of cases that are recorded to prevent undue administrative burdens on the court.
  • The rule applies to clerk magistrates conducting public proceedings.

The rule represents a significant step forward for electronic access to Massachusetts courts.

Hearing March 6 on Bill to Create Journalist Shield for Mass.

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing this week on a bill to create a journalist shield law in Massachusetts. House Bill 2255, the Free Flow of Information Act, sponsored by Rep. Alice Hanlon Peisch (D-Wellesley), would bar state government from compelling members of the news media to disclose the source of any news or information.

The hearing is set for Tuesday, March 6, at 1 p.m. in State House Room A-2.

The bill would also bar the compelled disclosure of notes, outtakes, film and other materials collected by a reporter but not used in any news report, unless a court first determines that the information cannot be obtained anywhere else and there is an overriding public interest in the disclosure.

In addition to barring disclosure of sources and notes, the bill would prohibit the state from compelling a reporter to testify except in cases where disclosure of the identity of a source is necessary to prevent imminent acts of terrorism.

Massachusetts is one of only 10 states that does not have a statute that shields journalists from subpoenas. Last April, West Virginia became the 40th state to enact such a law. The District of Columbia also has a shield law.

The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association and the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association will be among those testifying at Tuesday’s hearing. Others with an interest in this bill are encouraged to testify or attend and show their support.

Questions or suggestions may be addressed to MNPA Executive Director Robert Ambrogi, 978-546-3400, ambrogi@legaline.com.

MNPA Joins SJC Amicus Brief to Unseal Inquest Materials in Amy Bishop Murder Case

The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association has joined with Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, the Citizen Media Law Project and a coalition of New England media and advocacy organizations to file an amicus curiae brief to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court seeking to unseal inquest documents in the Amy Bishop case. After a Superior Court judge refused the Boston Globe’s request to unseal the documents, the newspaper filed this appeal.

Bishop was a professor at the University of Alabama who allegedly shot and kiled three of her colleagues during a faculty meeting in 2010. The shooting sparked a new inquiry by prosecutors in Massachusetts into the 1986 fatal shooting of Bishop’s brother Seth. The Norfolk County district attorney initiated an inquest to investigate the shooting, which resulted in a grand jury issuing an indictment against Bishop for first-degree murder.

After the inquest was concluded, the Globe sought release of the inquest transcript and report. The Superior Court denied the request.

A more detailed description of the case and the legal issues it involves is available from the Citizen Media Law Project. A PDF copy of the brief is available for download.

Gov. Patrick to Speak at MNPA Annual Meeting

Gov. Deval Patrick, who was recently elected to his second term as Massachusetts governor, will be the featured speaker at the annual luncheon of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association Dec. 2.

This will be Gov. Patrick’s second appearance at the luncheon. Shortly after his election in 2006, the then governor-elect addressed the annual luncheon. It was his first major public appearance after the election.

The Dec. 2 luncheon takes place in conjunction with the MNPA’s annual meeting. The luncheon, which is held at Anthony’s Pier Four in Boston, is open to anyone who registers.

For information on registering, see the 2010 Annual Meeting page.

Survey of Media Access to Mass. Courts

The Judiciary/Media Committee of the Supreme Judicial Court is considering revisions to the Guidelines on the Public’s Right of Access to Judicial Proceedings and Records. In order to evaluate whether the guidelines should be amended or expanded and what other initiatives the committee might wish to pursue, the committee is asking members of the news media to complete a survey on media access to the courts.

As a member of the Judiciary/Media Committee, the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association is helping to disseminate the survey and compile its results. If you are a journalist who covers the Massachusetts courts, please take a moment to complete the survey and return it promptly to the address indicated.

You can download the survey here, in Microsoft Word format: Survey of Media Access to Courts.

SJC Issues Key Open Meeting Ruling

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today issued its ruling in a key open meeting law case, District Attorney for the Northern District v. School Committee of Wayland. The SJC ruled that the School Committee violated the law when it met in a closed session to discuss the performance evaluation of Wayland’s superintendent of schools and when it exchanged private e-mails regarding the evaluation in advance of the meeting.

In so ruling, the SJC sides with the position taken by the district attorney and by the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association in an amicus brief it filed in the case. The case was initiated by a complaint filed by a reporter for the Wayland Town Crier.

The ruling is significant for three reasons:

  • It affirms that discussions of a government employee’s “professional competence” must be conducted in public.
  • It affirms that an exchange of e-mails among the members of a public body can constitute “deliberation” and therefore violate the open meeting law.
  • It clarifies a seeming conflict between the open meeting law and the public records law. While the discussion of an employee’s performance evaluation must take place in an open meeting, once the evaluation is reduced to a written evaluation document, that document need not be made public.

The School Committee had argued that the evaluation was a prelude to contract negotiations with the superintendent and therefore was exempt as a strategy session in preparation for negotiations. But the SJC said that there was no evidence that the committee discussed strategy.

This is an important ruling for affirming the right of the public to know how their local officials are performing in their jobs. The public has a right to know when a local official is performing well or performing poorly.