The nonprofit that owns the Portland Press Herald, Sun Journal and Kennebec Journal has been recognized for its coverage of the Lewiston mass shooting.

The New England First Amendment Coalition, an organization dedicated to protecting First Amendment rights, is honoring the Maine Trust for Local News with the Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award. The annual award is given to a journalist or team of journalists in New England “for a body of work from the previous calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law.”

Police block the road Oct. 28 while investigating the mass shooting at Schemengees Bar & Grille in Lewiston. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer, file

The newsrooms collaborated to cover Maine’s deadliest mass shooting, in which gunman Robert Card shot and killed 18 people and wounded 13 others at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston on Oct. 25, 2023. The newspapers filed dozens of public records requests seeking access to 911 transcripts, communications between Maine State Police leaders, Card’s autopsy, and other critical documents immediately after the shooting and in the months that followed.

This information has helped the newsrooms report on the various systemic failures that led to the shooting and the state police response in the 48-hour manhunt for Card.

But, NEFAC notes, it hasn’t been an easy endeavor.

“Reporters faced enormous and consistent resistance by Maine State Police, who attempted to block access to information about how they responded,” the coalition said in an announcement Thursday. “The newsrooms began making public record requests just hours after the shooting and spent more than six months fighting denials and other challenges to the public’s right to know about the tragedy.”


Sun Journal Executive Editor Judith Meyer, who nominated the Maine Trust for the award, said that state police resisted the newspapers’ efforts to report on the shooting and its aftermath.

“We firmly believe that the public has an absolute and compelling right to know what happened here, what failings occurred and what, if anything, can be done to prevent another tragedy,” Meyer said.

The Maine Trust for Local News will receive the award at the 14th annual New England First Amendment Awards on June 27.

“It’s heartening to receive this recognition as we continue our relentless pursuit of keeping the public informed,” said Lisa DeSisto, CEO of the Maine Trust for Local News. “It’s the strongest validation of our mission.

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