Sunshine Week more than press issue; Americans have right to know

Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week

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.

An editorial from the Times-West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — “Open government is good government” is the theme for Sunshine Week, which runs today through Saturday.

It was launched in 2005, and the focus is on the importance of access to public information and what it means to the providers of this information and the community. The annual initiative promotes open government and pushes against against excessive official secrecy.

Sunshine Week, of course, gets plenty of attention in the media across the country — those people in charge of providing information to their readers, listeners and viewers.

The concept, however, is wider — much wider.

“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,” explained Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association.

“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.”

Americans have a right to know about the action being taken by their government — from officials in the smallest communities to the White House. Secrecy — with obvious exceptions such as national security and legitimate privacy concerns in matters such as personnel decisions — should not be tolerated in our country.

In too many cases, though, it is…

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