HomeTop StoriesMaine Trust for Local News wins award for reporting on Lewiston shooting

Maine Trust for Local News wins award for reporting on Lewiston shooting

June 13 – 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, honors 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 preceding calendar year that protects or advances the public’s right to know under federal or state law.”

The editors teamed up to cover Maine’s deadliest mass shooting, when gunman Robert Card shot and killed 18 people and injured 13 others at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston on Oct. 25, 2023. The newspapers filed dozens of requests for access to public records in 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.

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

But, NEFAC notes, it has not been an easy undertaking.

“Reporters faced tremendous and persistent resistance from the Maine State Police, who attempted to block access to information about how they responded,” the coalition said in an announcement Thursday. “Editors began filing public records requests just hours after the shooting and have spent more than six months fighting denials and other challenges to the public’s right to know about the tragedy.”

Sun Journal Editor-in-Chief Judith Meyer, who nominated the Maine Trust for the award, said state police resisted 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 shortcomings occurred and what, if anything, can be done to prevent another tragedy,” Meyer said.

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

“It is encouraging to receive this recognition as we continue our continued commitment to keeping the public informed,” said Lisa DeSisto, CEO of the Maine Trust for Local News. ‘It is the strongest confirmation of our mission.

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