Reporters Committee Policy Director Rick Blum: Every week should be Sunshine Week
Every year, the news industry comes together to celebrate the importance of access to public information during Sunshine Week, an initiative led by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The 14th annual Sunshine Week is March 10-16 this year.
The Reporters Committee, along with the Freedom Forum Institute, the American Society of News Editors, Fix the Court and OpenTheGovernment, is kicking off Sunshine Week early on March 8 with the 21st annual National Freedom of Information Day conference at the Newseum.
Several of the nation’s leading journalism and freedom of information advocates will examine transparency at the midpoint of the current presidential term, the privatization of government under a cloak of secrecy and, for the first time, court transparency. The event is free and open to the public but requires registration.
“For more than two decades, Freedom of Information Day has been a celebration of our country’s laws and traditions promoting transparency and accountability,” said Reporters Committee Policy Director Rick Blum. “It’s also a chance to take an honest look at areas of weakness and how we can better ensure the public is informed and armed with accurate, credible information to understand what happens in city halls, statehouses, courts, Congress and the White House.”
ASNE and the Reporters Committee work with news organizations to provide all Sunshine Week participants with resources such as Freedom of Information Act story ideas, guest columns, editorial cartoons, informational graphics, multimedia elements and reporting packages — all available on the Sunshine Week website. There are special projects and events planned around the nation to mark this year’s open government awareness week.
“Sunshine Week has also proven powerful in shining a light on secrecy,” Blum added. “Through local audits of government agency practices, Sunshine Week participants have moved more information into the public eye, pushed legislation forward, prompted oversight hearings and pointed questions, and strengthened the kind of transparency that makes our democracy stronger. Every week needs to be Sunshine Week.”
“Government transparency has always been important, but is even more vital as the public increasingly demands access to the information they have a right to know,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown. “Without transparency at all levels of government, it’s difficult for journalists to accurately gather news and inform communities about what government is doing and why.”
About Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week is made possible by an endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and by generous donations from Bloomberg and the Gridiron Club and Foundation.
ASNE launched Sunshine Week in 2005 as a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants have included print, broadcast and digital media outlets; government officials at all levels; schools and universities; nonprofit and civic organizations; libraries and archivists; and individuals interested in the public’s right to know. Since 2012, ASNE has partnered with the Reporters Committee to oversee the national coordination of resources and provide support for participants.