SW Opinion 2017

Please note that the columns below represent the viewpoints of the authors and not necessarily Sunshine Week organizers.

Credit/©: David McKinney/ Office of University Relations Studio Portrait - September 2008 Pam Fine Journalism Distinguished or named professor

Plan Ahead: Use Sunshine Week to champion fact-based journalism” by Pam Fine, Knight Chair for News, Leadership and Community at the University of Kansas and immediate past president of ASNE: “Starting today, take a page from Trump. Create and use every opportunity you have to engage and inform the public about the value of journalism. Tout the important work your newsroom is doing for your communities and the country. It’s not the time to be humble.” (Read more)

JimZacharyIt’s Your Right, It’s Your Business” by Jim Zachary, CNHI Regional Editor and Editor of The Valdosta Daily Times: “Every action of government is your business. Every document held in government halls is your piece of paper. Every penny spent by government is your money. From the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House, government belongs to the governed and not the governing. You have the right to know what the governing are up to, always.” (Read more)

EdwinBender2013Is ‘Weaponizing’ Disclosure a Bad Thing?” by Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics: “The public’s right to know who is involved in this country’s election and public policy processes is a bedrock ideal of our democracy. Yet, some folks just don’t seem to get that. Instead of focusing on the principle involved, they want to sue or demonize public officials.” (Read more)

Brian008 C crop cdDemocracy Dies Behind Closed Doors” by Brian J. Hunhoff, journalist for Yankton County Observer and winner of the Freedom of Information award: “Some say it’s harmless for a quorum of Republicans lawmakers to caucus secretly. We say it’s a case of too many elephants in the room. The closed caucus is a place to get those elephants in a row away from public view.” (Read more)

Public Notices Play Key Role in Open Government” by Brian J. Hunhoff: “Years before he entered the newspaper business, a rural teenager asked his farmer father why he was reading that page packed with small print in the back of the newspaper. “Because,” the farmer replied, “I want to see how the county is spending my tax dollars. I like to see who they are doing business with.” That farmer’s particular interest was the list of bills paid by the county, but news of all kinds is published in public notices.” (Read more)


Help The Sun Shine Locally This Year” by Christian Trejbal, founder of Opinion in a Pinch, and ASNE member: “The recently departed Obama administration never delivered on its promise to be the most transparent in history, and the new Trump administration seems to have an equal or even greater taste for secrecy. Heck, last year saw public records and the proper – or improper – handling of them help decide the presidential election. There’s plenty of red meat to go after in the nation’s capital, but the obvious target is not always the best target.” (Read more)

Condos_JacketTieLet The Sun Shine In!” by James C. Condos, Secretary of State of Vermont: “If we are ever to overcome this faulty closed-door culture and rebuild trust in government, we must start with the presumption that everything is public and belongs to the people, with narrow exceptions for good reasons.” (Read more)


Breeze newspapers logo4CShadow Government” by the Cape Coral Breeze Daily Editorial team: “It should not matter whether the “shadow government” stays on the legal side of Florida’s very stringent Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws. Such governance tramples the spirit of the statutes that protect the public’s right to be part of any decision-making process from concept to implementation.” (Read more)

Kathryn FoxhallPIO Censorship in the Era of Trump” by Kathryn Foxhall, member of the SPJ’s FOI Committee: “President Trump has already labeled major press outlets the “fake news media” and the “enemy of the people.” His administration has blocked major news outlets from a briefing because it didn’t like what they published.” (Read more)


DaveDaley-croppedFederal grant funding obscures how government is funded, diffuses accountability” by Dave Daley, reporter for WPRI’s Project for 21st Century Federalism: “It’s especially difficult for the public, journalists and even politicians to track the hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants distributed to states, local governments and private entities. But try to follow the money and you can find yourself in the back alleys of government — alone and in the dark. And that’s by design, some say.” (Read more)

Bletner, Rhonda

Openness, transparency and frankly, to be honest” by Rhonda Bletner, editor of The Mountain Press: “In recognition of Sunshine Week, a week that emphasizes the importance of open government, The Mountain Press shared some guest opinions to demonstrate our support. Those guest opinions illustrate the significance of government transparency, and it’s equally valuable here in Sevier County. So is the role the newspaper has in maintaining a democratic government.” (Read more)


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