The First Amendment Foundation Celebrates Sunshine Week!
Sunshine Week occurs each year in mid-March, coinciding with James Madison‘s birthday and National Freedom of Information Day on the 16th.
During Sunshine Week, the First Amendment Foundation, along with hundreds of media organizations, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and other participants engage public discussion on the importance of open government.
Do you have something to add? Please share any Sunshine Week stories for us to include on our website: firstname.lastname@example.org
From our friends at The American Society of News Editors (ASNE):
Sunshine Week 2016, the 11th anniversary, keeps shining and shining with hundreds of participants fighting for open government and freedom of information. Thanks for producing, publishing and promoting magnificent work and organizing and hosting various events to raise awareness of this important nationwide initiative. For more information, visit sunshineweek.org, and follow Sunshine Week on Facebook and Twitter. Please use the hashtag #SunshineWeek.
A quick Google search brings up uncountable Sunshine Week news entries from numerous media organizations around the nation. If you’ve been following the #SunshineWeek hashtag on social media, then you’ll know what we mean by “uncountable”! Here are just some stories and opinion pieces, including the uplifting news about the Senate’s passing of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 by unanimous consent Tuesday.
- “In Celebration of Sunshine Week & National FOI Day, The First Amendment Foundation & The Poynter Institute Launch the Sunshine Certificate” (Poynter)
- “Sunshine Week: Public records and local officials” (The Tampa Tribune)
- “Sunshine Week: Obtaining Police Emails Can Take Months, Cost Thousands” (Jackson Free Press)
- “Open Government is the Best Government” (The Ledger)
- “Will the First Amendment Survive the Information Age?” (The Tallahassee Democrat)
- “Gov. Rick Scott Steers Clear of Text Messaging for Public Business, Office Says” (Tampa Bay Times)
- “Obtaining Florida Elected Official’s Texts Can be Tricky – and Costly” (Tampa Bay Times)
- “Sunshine Week: A Look at Florida State Officials’ Texts Messages” (Bradenton Herald)
- “Sunshine Week: Public Needs Year-Round Access to Documents, Meetings, Donation Information” (Jackson Free Press)
- “Florida’s Open-Government Laws Must Constantly Be Defended” (Palm Beach Post)
- “Open Government Under Attack” (Sun Sentinel)
- “Think Too Much: Celebrating Sunshine Week and ‘Mr. G-T‘” (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
- “Technology Presents Challenge for Open Records” (The Ledger)
- “Support Openness with Sunshine Week Next Week” (Great Falls Tribune)
- “Sunshine Week: Concealed with a Capitol C” (Sauk Valley)
- “Sunshine Week: A Look at Technology and Public Records” (Washington Times)
- “Openness Works By Building Trust” (News Press Now)
- “Sunshine Laws Vital to the Public” (Montgomery Advertiser)
- “Our View: Observing Sunshine Week” (The Courier)
- “Sunshine Laws Help Journalists Fulfill Their Roles At Government Watchdogs“(The Vicksburg Post)
- “Fixing FOIA: Senate-passed Bill is a Good Start, But More is Needed” (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
- “Government Transparency is Vital” (Christian County Headliner News)
- “It’s Sunshine Week 2016” (The Lakeland Times)
- “Sunshine Week: The Lakeland Times’ 2016 Open Records Grades” (The Lakeland Times)
- “Senate passes FOIA reform bill” (The Hill)
- “White House: Obama would sign FOIA bill” (POLITICO)
- “Many state legislatures exempt themselves from record laws” (The Associated Press)
- “Sunshine Week Essay: Will The First Amendment Survive The Information Age?” (CBS Local)
- “Sunshine Week: Are State Agency E-Mails Too Easily Deleted?” (Colorado Public Radio)
- “Tragedy of Flint illustrates urgent need to strengthen Michigan FOIA” (Detroit Free Press)
- “SUNSHINE WEEK: Shine Light on Major Donors to Help Democracy” (Jackson Free Press, Jackson, Mississippi)
- “Sunshine Week: Watchdog group wants Michigan to rise from bottom of transparency rankings” (Michigan Radio)
- “Spotlight dimming on disclosure” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- “Sunshine Week couldn’t come at a better time” (The San Diego Union-Tribune)
- “Sunshine Week begs the question: Why aren’t Californians angry about a court ruling allowing official secrecy?” (The Sacramento Bee)
- “Angie Muhs: Openness in government is critical” (The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois)
- “Why hasn’t Obama signed popular transparency order?” (The Tennessean)
- “Sunshine Week should turn up the heat” (The Washington Times)
- “Sunshine Week dawns, but it’s cloudy here” (Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Cheyenne, Wyoming)
Sunshine Week 2016 will continue to shine until Saturday. Be sure to check out the growing participants list and events calendar. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend all kinds of events planned this week.
In case you missed it, the Sunshine Week Toolkit features free resources, including stories, op-eds, cartoons, a graphic and more, that you can use to create strong packages for your print and online publications this week. A new story by The Associated Press was added to the special reporting package Wednesday, and one other AP story will be added today. All of the content is available to anyone and everyone free of charge, thanks to AP, The McClatchy Company, The Sacramento Bee, Tribune News Service, and many more participating organizations andindividuals.
When: Friday March 11th, 8am-3:30pm
What: 2016 National Freedom of Information Day Conference
Hosted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center with OpenTheGovernment.org, the American Society of News Editors, Sunshine Week and the American Library Association, the conference will gather individuals from all areas relating to freedom of information and open records to address transparency in government and freedom of information laws and practices. See more here.
Where: Knight Conference Center, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC
When: Saturday March 12th, 1-5pm
What: Open Government & YOU
“Open Government & YOU” will examine the current state of open government laws, highlight how these laws are being narrowed, and present personal testimonials from citizens regarding their experiences with open government records laws. Keynote Speaker and First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen will present a discussion titled ”You Can Never Get Enough Sunshine.” Petersen will discuss how Florida has traditionally been a leader in providing its citizens oversight and review of the actions of its elected officials at every level through its Sunshine laws. Unfortunately, privacy concerns and influential special interests are working to erode these laws and erect barriers to transparency and accountability.
Where: News-Press Bldg., 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers, FL
When: Tuesday, March 15th, 7-8:30pm
Reformers have tried to improve public access to information about decision making in government for decades. But some influential commentators now argue that the drive for transparency has gone too far, undermining the capacity of elected officials to reach agreement on policies and to make those policies work. March 13-19 is Sunshine Week – a nationwide celebration of access to public information. It is a good time to ask: Is our government actually too open?
Join the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs for a debate on transparency in the federal government between Professor Bruce Cain and Professor Charles Lewis, moderated by First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen. The debate will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15 in Fred W. Smith Forum (Room 200) at RJI. Refreshments will be available starting at 6:30 p.m. Both speakers’ books will be available for purchase.
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, Smith Forum, Room 200, 401 S. Ninth Street, Columbia, MO
When: Tuesday March 15th, 7pm
In recognition of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote open government, the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and the New England First Amendment Coalition will present a discussion, “The Right to Know in New Hampshire: Where are We, Where are We Going?” concerning the key to open government in New Hampshire – the state’s Right-to-Know Law.
Where: The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, 749 E. Industrial Park Drive, Manchester, New Hampshire
History of Sunshine Week
The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002 in response to efforts by some Florida legislators to create scores of new exemptions to the state’s public records law. The following year, the idea of a national Sunshine Sunday was raised at an ASNE Freedom of Information summit.
In the planning stages, it was decided that the initiative needed to be more than a single Sunday, and Sunshine Week was born. The first nationwide Sunshine Week took place March 13–19, 2005.