From an original story by Providence Journal staff.
The Providence Journal recently won the New England Newspaper & Press Association First Amendment Award for its efforts to confirm the free-press principles governing reporters’ access to jurors.
The First Amendment Award is given out to one publication in New England each year “for exceptional work in illuminating and upholding the rights and freedoms of the First Amendment.”
The Journal filed a complaint in April against Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel, the state Superior Court, and Jury Commissioner Eugene J. McCaffrey III.
The newspaper alleged Vogel had violated First Amendment guarantees when she ordered reporters, including The Journal’s Katie Mulvaney, not to contact jurors after a murder trial. A Superior Court administrator also refused to provide a Journal reporter with the identities of the empaneled jurors in the case.
The Journal took its case to federal court in June, and it remains pending in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire.
The NENPA judges wrote: “When a Rhode Island Superior Court judge banned reporters from speaking to jurors at the completion of a high-profile murder trial, The Providence Journal immediately recognized the order for what it was: an extraordinary overreach by the court and a clear violation of the First Amendment.
“During the next several months, the Journal fought the order both in court and through its newspaper editorial pages. It became an advocate for the First Amendment right of journalists and citizens to speak with their community members about participating in a trial.”
In addition to the First Amendment Award, NENPA awarded Distinguished Newspaper designations to the weekday and Sunday editions of The Journal. The winners are selected by jury panels of newspaper readers who evaluate the quality of reporting and writing, use of photos, design and presentation, online offerings, and overall utility and value.
“I’m delighted at this recognition, which speaks to the strong contributions of our entire staff,” said Alan Rosenberg, executive editor of The Journal. “Every reporter, photographer, editor, producer and assistant can be proud.”
Read the original story here.