Archive for the ‘Sunshine Week’ Category

Throw open the curtains, it’s Sunshine Week

This week, make a special effort to shine a light on government.

Sunshine Week logoBecause today, we throw open the curtains for Sunshine Week, an annual initiative begun in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors, joined by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in 2011, and devised to promote dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.

The initiative includes civic groups, libraries, news media, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know, and from Washington, D.C., to Washington state, an assortment of these organizations plan special events this week to help put that precious right into perspective.

The timing of the week is by design, as it honors the birth date March 16 of James Madison, coauthor of the Federalist Papers, father of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and fourth president of the United States.

“Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty,” Madison once wrote, “but also by the abuse of power.”

This notion transcends press freedom to encompass the right of all our republic’s citizens to question government and hold it accountable for its actions. Sunshine Week tries to remind everyone of that.

So, step up these seven days and lend your voice to the wake-up call. Write stories, editorials and news columns about this special week; organize essay contests and local forums; explain government transparency to students and educators; or spread the word though social media. The Sunshine Week website has a list of ways to make celebrations happen.

Elected officials meanwhile are urged to pass resolutions and introduce legislation supporting public access, as well as ensure compliance with existing laws that call for open records and meetings.

Everyone can make a difference. Start this week to make a difference daily.

David Sheets, SPJ's Region 7 directorDavid Sheets is a freelance editor, adjunct professor of journalism at Lindenwood UniversityRegion 7 director, and past-president of SPJ’s St. Louis Pro chapter. Reach him by e-mail at, on Twitter at @DKSheets, on Facebook and LinkedIn.


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