An editorial from The Inter-Mountain
Editor’s note: Sunshine Week, March 16-22, 2014, is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.
ELKINS, W.Va. — Secrecy in government is one of the evils that newspapers have always fought against. Secrecy makes problems worse, erodes public confidence in government and serves only special interests, not citizens.
This week – March 16-22 – is Sunshine Week. The theme is “Open government is good government.” Launched in 2005, Sunshine Week has grown into an enduring annual initiative to promote open government and push back against excessive official secrecy.
Sunshine Week was created by the American Society of News Editors and is now coordinated in partnership with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, but freedom of information isn’t just a press issue. It is a cornerstone of democracy, enlightening and empowering people to play an active role in their government at all levels. It helps keep public officials honest, makes government more efficient and provides a check against abuse of power.
Sunshine Week focuses on transparency, participation and accessibility. Transparency: Making government information available to the public is a requirement for an informed citizenry and an accountable government. Participation: Democracy requires opportunities for participation and collaborative problem solving whenever possible; this is at the core of democratic governance. And accessibility:A government serving all its people needs policies which provide maximum information accessibility and maximum inclusion in participatory processes.
This week, The Inter-Mountain will highlight local agencies that operate openly and with transparency, as well as instances when public information has been harder to come by, and officials have been reluctant to let the public know what was going on behind closed doors. The aim of Sunshine Week is to open those closed doors and “let the sunshine in” on government. The public’s right to know is what newspapers were built on, and we will celebrate that right all week.