Sunshine Week approaches sunset

Sunshine Week draws to a close. How transparent are our governments, you ask? Eh.

>>Michigan State University students “emailed most of the municipalities and school districts in Ingham County with a simple request. The students asked how many Freedom of Information Act requests these entities had received in each of the five preceding years.” They then rated the bodies by their responses. Ingham Township got no stars: “Requested Feb. 29. We made followup call on March 13 and were told that the township has had only three requests in the previous five years, all from journalism students asking how many FOIA requests the township gets.”

>>Indiana courts ruled the South Bend Tribune could not publish a story it had already published based on information it had received from a state agency. Indiana’s attorney general stepped in and asked the court to dismiss the case. Attorney General Greg Zoeller said, ”In the interest of openness and transparency, the publication of public records should not be halted.”

>>The First Amendment Center dusts off the old canard that only professional journalists can take the time to examine public records: “Quantity of content doesn’t guarantee quality of content, and the kind of work done by America’s professional news media — profit and nonprofit — will be done by no one else.” In fact, with journalists having less and less time to devote to deep dives on data, we’ll be ever more dependent on and grateful to people who take up these causes themselves, a fact reflected by Sunshine Week’s Local Heroes.

More morning media roundup:

What does a philosopher have to do to get her obituary in The New York Times? (Besides die, of course?) Ruth Barcan Marcus‘ fellow philosophers were not philosophical about her absence from the paper’s obituary pages; they blogged and wrote letters to the editor until The Times wrote about her life in a piece published online Tuesday. Marcus died Feb. 19.

• Florida Times-Union publisher Lucy Talley is taking a new job as group publisher of Hearst’s community newspaper division.

• What people will pay for on their tablets, according to a Nielsen survey: pretty much anything except news. “It’s likely because there are many more ways of getting news content for free via apps and the web, while those other, higher ranking categories are viewed as chargeable, “premium” content — both by the industry and by users,” writes Ingrid Lunden.

• Washington Post Style section writer Monica Hesse signed a deal to write YA books for a British publishing house. No plans for vampires.

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