Welcome to Sunshine Week — a time created to draw public attention to the issue of freedom of information. The first Sunshine Sunday was declared in Florida in 2002, when newspapers across that state agreed to publish editorials and articles on government openness on the same day. It was the Sunday before James Madison’s birthday.
Although newspapers and other forms of media use the state’s open meetings and public records laws regularly to keep government accountable, it’s important to note those laws aren’t in place for the media. Those laws exist for everyone’s use.
Although the media most often uses the laws to obtain information, anyone can request a document (or number of documents) and receive them, unless they are exempt under public records law. And, if you are denied access, the entity must tell you under what exemption you are being denied.