Spring has arrived here in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and just in time for Sunshine Week 2009. This March 15th through the 21st, journalists, students, teachers, private citizens, and bloggers like myself will engage in trying to stimulate discussion about the importance of open government. Whether or not this has to do with popular conspiracy topics like UFOs is up to the individuals who participate, although the general focus is to help promote the idea that often unnecessary secrecy should be avoided, especially if the information isn’t so sensitive that it couldn’t be released without causing harm anyway.
At the Sunshine Week website, the following information is outlined:
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
Sunshine Week is led by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is funded primarily by a challenge grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami.
Though spearheaded by journalists, Sunshine Week is about the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why. Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.
Sunshine Week is a non-partisan initiative whose supporters are conservative, liberal and everything in between.
The only requirement for participants is that you do something to engage in a discussion about the importance of open government. It could be a large public forum or a classroom discussion, an article or series of articles about access to important information, or an editorial. The extent to which you participate is up to you, the individuals involved, and the ways you hope to help in efforts to achieve disclosure. In my hometown, writer Jon Elliston with the Mountain Xpress decided to do his own “Xpress Files”, with this week’s cover story featuring his own local efforts to promote shining a little light on the darker areas of our government. If you’d like to participate, you can learn more about the Sunshine Week project by visiting the link below: