Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sunshine Week is March 10-16; time to make plans for it

It's time for news outlets and journalists to start planning for Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of the virtues of open government -- and the role of the news media in protecting it. It's an opportunity to remind the public that journalists aren't the main users of open-government laws, but are their main advocates, and that the laws facilitate journalists' pursuit of truth in service of democracy.

Sunshine Week is coordinated by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which maintain a website with an events calendar, success stories and a supply of columns, cartoons and other features for publication. But the best features are local, or at least localized, to remind readers, listeners and viewers of how open-government laws protect them.

If you think "Sunshine Week" sounds too gimmicky, or is too much "inside baseball," the website's resources page has an alternative logo limited to the message of the week: "Your right to know."

The page also links to the Whistleblower Project, created by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Government Accountability Project and other whistleblowing and news-media organizations to inform journalists on how they can safely work with whistleblowers. They have created a comprehensive case for why government employees or contractors workers who risk everything to reveal the facts should be praised and better protected.

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