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November 02. 2013 4:28AM

Nackey Loeb School: Nurturing a free country

Next Tuesday, Nov. 12, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications will host its 11th annual First Amendment Honors program. The school is the majority stockholder in the Union Leader Corp., which owns this newspaper. We note that in the interest of full disclosure.

We also note the relationship because of whom the Nackey Loeb School will be honoring next week. It is The Telegraph newspaper of Nashua.

The Telegraph and this newspaper are competitors for news and advertising and readers. Since ours is a statewide newspaper, we are also competitive with other local newspapers, including the Concord Monitor, Foster's Democrat of Dover, the Portsmouth Herald and others. Yet the Nackey Loeb School has either honored each of these newspapers or had their editors or reporters and photographers as teachers.

It is an unusual relationship and an important one for New Hampshire in several respects. Nackey Loeb started the school in part to improve communications among citizens in the state she loved. The school does this by teaching communications to students of all ages. WMUR-TV teaches a broadcast course.

The school also improves communication by teaching about and being a resource on the First Amendment to our Constitution. That amendment and all the open-record laws that go hand-in-hand with it have become increasingly important in an age when government agencies are becoming less and less responsive to and open with the people they are supposed to serve.

The Telegraph will be honored for an ongoing series called the "Open Government Project" in which it reports on the often tedious process of obtaining public information from government officials. Its efforts have borne fruit, causing a local commission to meet when it is more convenient for the public, and causing the City of Nashua to review policies about spending tax money for employee lunches.

It is often said that a free press is essential for a free country. But there is no free lunch. The Nackey Loeb event isn't free either, but the noon lunch at the Executive Court Conference Center in Manchester features ABC-TV anchor and political correspondent George Stephanopoulos. A few tickets remain available. Check it out at www.Loebschool.org.


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