Access to public information is under attack

Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week

An editorial from The Register-Herald 

BECKLEY, W.Va. — This week is “Sunshine Week,” and we’re not talking about the weather.

Sunshine Week is shorthand for the right of, not just the media, but any American citizen to demand transparency from both our elected officials and our unelected bureaucrats.

The tool we use to ensure this happens is the Freedom of Information Act, which makes sure Americans can access public information about what our governments — local, state and federal — are up to.

Sadly, 50 years after the Act was passed, it is under threat like never before by government officials dragging their feet on legitimate requests, ignoring them, or frequently charging exorbitant fees for “copying” and “research” to drive off all but the most committed and deep-pocketed citizen from pursuing information.

This was not what the spirit of the FOIA was meant to be.

More importantly, it is not what America was meant to be.

This is not just about the media, although FOIA requests can be an important part of the reporting process we use in order to fulfill our duty to inform the public. It’s a right of all Americans…

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