Free Expression Network launches e-mail alert service

Thursday, December 16, 1999

A consortium of free-expression groups yesterday launched an e-mail service that will allow them to quickly and efficiently send news releases and advisories about First Amendment issues.

The Free Expression Network, which boasts a membership of more than 30 nonprofit groups dedicated to the First Amendment, plans to use the service to provide journalists with information supplied by leading advocates on freedom of speech, press and expression.

The debut of the FEN Newswire coincided with the 208th anniversary of the ratification of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791.

“There was so much duplication of effort to maintain our own press lists and getting press releases out,' said Joan Bertin, who, as executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, helped coordinate the coalition's newest project. 'In addition to making it possible to send more press releases, it will enable us to collaborate better.'

David Greene, executive director of the First Amendment Project in San Francisco, says the e-mail service will enable smaller groups such as his to reach more people.

'Being someone from a small organization, we don't always send things out,' Greene said. 'We just don't have the facility to do it.'

With a common press list, Greene says the groups can target journalists and other recipients more effectively and reduce duplication of the First Amendment message.

'We think there's value in the Free Expression Network name,' he said. 'When journalists see these e-mails, they know it's something credible, not something that gets lost in their in-box.'

FEN will distribute news releases via e-mail to network subscribers. The releases will include links to FEN members, in addition to providing detailed information about an incident, court case or proposed legislation.

Those wishing to receive FEN Newswire releases may sign up at FEN will archive the releases on its Web site, which also carries news articles and a news ticker of top headlines from the First Amendment Center.