March 13, 2015

Sunshine Week, an annual initiative promoting government transparency, starts Sunday. To mark the occasion, several journalists and media organizations have taken public stands in favor of better open records laws and more transparent government.

Gary Pruitt, CEO of The Associated Press
Pruitt released a statement Friday that condemned the government’s lackadaisical responses to The AP’s Freedom of Information Act requests, citing its recent lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.

Despite head-pounding frustrations in using them, the Freedom of Information Act and state open records laws are powerful reporting tools. But it’s important to remember that they don’t exist just for journalists. They are there for everyone.

Massachusetts newspapers
The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, the The Patriot Ledger and Gatehouse Media papers in Massachusetts have all agreed to publish coordinated editorials in condemnation of a recent ruling by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin that allowed Boston police to withhold the names of police officers who were driving drunk, said Ellen Clegg, interim editorial page editor at The Boston Globe.

The idea for the public stand came when Patriot Ledger editorial page editor Amy MacKinnon called Clegg Wednesday and asked whether The Globe was planning to editorialize about government transparency. The paper was, so the two agreed to coordinate the publication of their editorials.

“We decided to write these editorials in our own institutional voice, from our own ideological view, but they all come down on the same place,” Clegg said.

The Knight Foundation
Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of The Knight Foundation, has written an op-ed highlighting the progress that still needs to be made by open-government advocates:

Unfortunately, examples also abound of closed government, of public information held hostage. The week, major news organizations are reporting that too many government agencies are trying to block the public’s access to its own information by charging exorbitant fees. Or turning our information over to businesses that are not transparent. Or muddying up freedom with restrictions that display an ignorance of what freedom really means.

For more information, you can visit Sunshine Week’s official site.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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