By Donna Westfall – March 6, 2016 -Sunshine Week is a national initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. It was established in March 2005 with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
While Sunshine Week was created by journalists, its mission is to raise awareness about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why. In California, governmental entities are subject to laws on public records and open meetings.
Sunshine Week was created by the American Society of News Editors and is now coordinated in partnership with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, but freedom of information isn’t just a press issue. It is a cornerstone of democracy, enlightening and empowering people to play an active role in their government at all levels. It helps keep public officials honest, makes government more efficient and provides a check against abuse of power.
For example; in our City and County, numerous requests for public records have been made over the years covering topics ranging from fluoride information (most ignored or incomplete), records having to do with work on the sewer plant (refused) and copies of videos, the most infamous being the seven hours Sheriff’s deputies spent at Dave Egan’s illegally taking everything not nailed down out of his house. When County Counsel provided a copy of the video 17 months later, it was less than 1- 1/2 minutes long. (BlackHawk Pistol Story – Part 7 – Watch the Video published December 27, 2015)
Sunshine Week occurs each year in mid-March, coinciding with James Madison’s birthday and National Freedom of Information Day on the 16th. This year it takes place from March 13 – 19.
During Sunshine Week, hundreds of media organizations, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and other participants engage in public discussions on the importance of open government through news and feature articles and opinion columns; special Web pages and blogs; infographics; editorial cartoons; public service advertising; public seminars and forums.
Sunshine Week is brought to you by:
the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
With generous support from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Bloomberg, and The Gridiron Club and Foundation
For further information go to sunshineweek.org