Monday, February 04, 2008

Mississippi newspapers partner for series on lack of openness in state's government agencies

Open meetings and open records laws are only good if followed, and the task of keeping tabs often falls on newspapers. In Mississippi, newspapers have joined forces with The Associated Press and the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information to produce a series that investigates the state's open-government laws — both in writing and in practice. The eight-day series, called "Secrecy in Mississippi" began today. (Above is its logo, produced by The Sun Herald of Biloxi)

"Mississippi's Open Meetings and Open Records laws were designed to protect citizens' access to the workings of government, but are rife with exemptions that perpetuate a culture of secrecy," according to a series overview from the Mississippi Press Association. "Private citizens, organizations and media outlets have long pushed for more open government, but the Legislature has largely ignored these appeals. Bills are being filed this year to try to tighten some of the exemptions and to give people a better chance to see the workings of their local and state governments – the governments that taxpayers support with their hard-earned dollars."

Topics in the series include enforcement, campaign finance, crime statistics and investigative records. The series will run in MPA daily member newspapers this week, and it will be available for weekly newspapers starting Feb. 10. (Read more)

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