The board of the National Freedom of Information Coalition mourns the passing of longtime Maine journalist and former NFOIC president Mal Leary, a champion of government transparency in his state and nationally.
NFOIC honored Mal with a proclamation upon his retirement in 2021, recognizing his support for freedom-of-information ideals and principles during his remarkable 45-year career covering Maine government and politics and as a tireless advocate for public access in his work with NFOIC, the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists.
“Mal, over decades, earned and maintained the trust and respect of colleagues, sources and the general public, and furthered the cause of government transparency,” the NFOIC proclamation says.
Known as the “dean of the statehouse press corps” in Maine, Mal began his reporting career in the 1970s with WABI TV in Bangor and later worked for United Press International, Capitol News Service (which he started) and Maine Public Radio. He served on NFOIC’s board of directors for several years and was president from 2015 to 2019.
“For many years, if you were a Maine journalist who had a question about freedom of information, you called Mal Leary. And he answered,” wrote the editorial staff of the Bangor Daily News. “… He was a tireless champion of the public’s right to know.”
“Mal earned the respect and admiration of readers, listeners, fellow journalists, and politicians of all stripes for his tough but fair questions, his balanced reporting, and his unrivaled institutional knowledge,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement issued by her office. “But beyond the halls of the Capitol, Mal was also just a good person who cared about people and who loved his state. Maine has lost a giant of journalism and a dear friend.”