Friday, February 01, 2013

Get ready for Sunshine Week, March 10-16

Sunshine Week, the annual observance to promote dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information, is set for March 10-16. It's always the week of March 16, the birthday of James Madison, father of the First Amendment.

Sunshine Week is driven by journalists, but it seeks to enlighten and empower all Americans to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Participants include news media, government officials, schools and universities, libraries and archives, non-profit and civic organizations, historians and individuals with an interest in open government.

The American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, chief sponsors of the event, have laid nationwide plans for events, special stories and release of freedom-of-information studies. With a continuing endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a 2013 donation from Bloomberg LP, the groups produce useful materials for participants and keep the Sunshine Week website and social media sites engaged.

"Our ongoing mission is to ensure that government at all levels remains transparent for the public and for reporters in all platforms,"  said Reporters Committee Chair Tony Mauro, Supreme Court correspondent for the National Law Journal. "This is a great opportunity to engage many different partners in open government education and discussions."

The National Newspaper Association is one of several co-sponsors. “The importance of open government cannot be understated,” said Deb McCaslin, chair of NNA’s Government Relations Committee. “Community newspapers are on the front lines in their towns, covering their chambers of commerce and school board meetings and keeping their readers informed about what is going on at the local level. These publications make a very real difference in the lives of the people in their communities. Without these newspapers keeping their local governments accountable, democracy would falter.”

Other particpants include the American Library Association, The Associated Press, The Cato Institute; the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch); the Center for Responsive Politics; the Inland Press Association; the New England First Amendment Coalition; the Radio Television Digital News Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. (Read more)

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