The nonprofit that owns the Morning Sentinel, Kennebec Journal Portland Press Herald, and others have won a Freedom of Information award for its coverage of the Lewiston mass shooting last year.

The New England First Amendment Coalition, an organization dedicated to protecting First Amendment rights, is honoring the Maine Trust for Local News with its annual Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award.

The newsrooms rallied together to cover Maine’s deadliest mass shooting, when gunman Robert Card shot and killed 18 people at a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston on Oct. 25. 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 systematic failures that led to the shooting and Maine State Police’s 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.”

The Michael Donoghue Freedom of Information Award is given each year 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.”

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

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