RTDNA is an active supporter of Sunshine Week, which began thirteen years ago as a way to draw attention to the need for open government. As part of that effort the Association is part of a coalition called News Media for Open Government (formerly the Sunshine in Government Initiative), which works for open access to government meetings and documents. Among the coalition's resources is an online portal to request access to government information, called FOIAonline.
Launched in response to attempts by lawmakers to thwart public records and open meetings laws, Sunshine Week has grown to involve thousands of people inside and outside the news profession, who value transparency in government. RTDNA is among dozens of groups supporting the effort.
To be a part of Sunshine Week, consider offering your readers, listeners and viewers stories that highlight open government laws and ordinances in your state and community. Does your legislature, county commission, city council or school board comply with the rules? Do lawmakers overuse "executive sessions" to keep the public from hearing debate over important issues? Does your government fail to post online or make available public records as required by statute? These and more ideas are ways to remind your audience of the value of open government and the role of journalists in maintain access. There is also a toolkit available for publications to use. Detailed contact information for leaders in Freedom of Information issues can be found in this state-by-state guide offered by the Society of Professional Journalists.
With the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, RTDNA offers public service announcements which can be aired on your station or your website.
Is your station taking part in Sunshine Week? Do you have government transparency horror stories or success stories? Let us know in the comments below.