Northeastern U. Creates
First Amendment Center
By Denise Lavoie
Associated Press Writer
September 19, 2008
BOSTON --Northeastern University said Friday that it has created a research and advocacy center to increase access to public records, which have become increasingly shielded by government.
The New England First Amendment Center will offer citizens, journalists and public policy organizations information on access to government. The university-based center will have a hotline to advise people seeking public documents and will host seminars for journalists, municipal officials and lawmakers on public records and open meeting laws.
Walter Robinson, Northeastern's coordinator of the center, said the federal government has restricted access to more records since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
State and local officials also routinely turn down requests for information, said Robinson, a former Boston Globe reporter and editor. He recalled one instance when members of the Globe Spotlight investigative team requested records on violent fugitives and a state board said they could have some information, but only if they got a letter of permission from each fugitive.