Sunshine Week 2017

sunshineweekbannerThe 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, March 12-18, 2017 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.

Annual Sunshine Luncheon

When: Tuesday March 14th, 11:30am – 2pm

What: Annual First Amendment Foundation Sunshine Luncheon & Awards Reception featuring Keynote Speaker Jeff Klinkenberg

Where: Governor’s Club, 202 S Adams St, Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Tickets, Tables & Sponsorships: To purchase tickets or tables, please visit us here. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Rachel Gelbmann at (850) 224-4555, or

About Jeff Klinkenberg: “If Jeff Klinkenberg isn’t careful, he might give journalism a good name,” says the author Carl Hiaasen. “He has a rare eye for marvelous detail, and an affectionate ear for those small, wise, bittersweet voices that tell the true story.”

Klinkenberg, who wrote about Florida culture for the Tampa Bay Times for almost four decades, is the author of the book collection of essays, Alligators in B-Flat, published by University Press of Florida. Previous anthologies, Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators, Seasons of Real Florida and Dispatches from the Land of Flowers, have been best sellers.

Born in 1949, Klinkenberg grew up in Miami and began exploring the Florida Keys and the Everglades as a small boy. He started working at The Miami News when he was 16 and became a journalism graduate of the University of Florida. He’s in the UF Journalism College’s Hall of Fame. He worked at the South’s largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, beginning in 1977. He retired in 2014.

In 2015, he won the national Society of Features Journalism’s prestigious “Narrative Storytelling” award. In 2013, Klink’s non-deadline work won the “Green Eyeshade Award” for southern journalism.  In 2010, Klink and photographer-videographer Maurice Rivenbark won the national Sigma Delta Chi Award for the online presentation of  his column “Real Florida.” In 2007 and 2009, the American Association of Sunday Features Editors selected a body of Klink’s work as the best in the nation. He is a two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distiguished Journalism Award, highest honor in state journalism, given annually to the writer with the best body of work by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. He has been an adjunct instructor in the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and was the first “Writer in Residence” for the University of South Florida’s Florida Studies Graduate program. Esquire, Outside, Travel and Leisure, and Audubon are among the magazines that have published his stories.

Florida’s First Amendment Foundation Announces Winners of its 2016 Sunshine Awards

February 9, 2017

The First Amendment Foundation is pleased to announce it has awarded The Honorable Scott Ellis, Clerk of Court for Brevard County, the 2016 Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award. The winner of the 2016 James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award is Mr. Curtis Lee of Jacksonville.

The nomination for the Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was based on Mr. Ellis’ commitment to ensuring compliance with Florida’s public records law and his tenacious struggle to obtain records from the Economic Development Commission of the Space Coast.  The Pete Weitzel/Friend of the First Amendment Award was created to recognize the significant contribution made by Pete Weitzel, former managing editor of The Miami Herald, and founder and past president of the First Amendment Foundation, in the area of open government.  The Weitzel Award is given annually to someone in Florida who has made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government.

Mr. Lee was nominated for the James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award for his role in Board of Trustees, Jacksonville Police & Fire Pension Fund v. Lee and his continuing commitment to ensuring that Florida government remains open and accessible to its people.  The James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award was created to recognize the importance and continuing value of Justice Adkins’ open government opinions while on the Florida Supreme Court and is given to attorneys or citizens who have made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government through litigation.

We owe Mr. Ellis and Mr. Lee special thanks for all they have done for the public.  They set a standard that citizens and those in government should emulate.

The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s annual Sunshine Recognition luncheon on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at the Governor’s Club in Tallahassee during Florida’s annual Sunshine Week celebrations.

The James C. Adkins/Sunshine Litigation Award was created to recognize the importance and continuing value of Justice Adkins’ open government opinions while on the Florida Supreme Court and is given to attorneys or citizens who have made a significant contribution to the cause of furthering open government through litigation.

Past recipients of the award can be found on the Foundation’s website,

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.

Articles from Sunshine Week 2016

Do you have something to add? Please share any Sunshine Week stories for us to include on our website:

 From our friends at The ASUNSHINE WEEK- Public Needs Year-Round Access to Documents, Meetings, Donation Informationmerican 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, 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. 

sunshineweekbannerSunshine 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 2016 National Freedom of Information Day Conference @ Knight Conference Center | Washington | District of Columbia | United Statesthe Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center with, 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

What: Is Our Government too Open?

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

What: The Right to Know in New Hampshire: Where are We, Where are We Going?

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

WhereThe Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, 749 E. Industrial Park Drive, Manchester, New Hampshire


Comments are closed.

Member Login

Forgot Password?

Join Us

%d bloggers like this: