Sunshine Week at Work in the States

Sunshine WeekSunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

Sunshine Week as a national effort is spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors. The key funder has been the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with significant support from ASNE Foundation.

Below, you’ll find a list of Sunshine Week events and observances that are being held across the country.

An added bonus: What you see here will also appear in Sunshine Week Coast to Coast, a special feature on the iPhone app, iOpenGov, brought to you by our friends and NFOIC member coalition, First Amendment Coalition.

The free app enhances the event listing with app tools that make it easy to get more information, visit Web sites, add events to your calendars, share the listing via email and Twitter and Facebook, and access maps and driving directions to the venues.

Check out what Sunshine Week Coast to Coast looks like on iOpenGov at Download iOpenGov at


Activities, observances, and awards around the country (and a bit beyond):

Arizona  |   California  |   Florida  |   Iowa  |   Illinois  |   Louisiana  |   Maine  |   Minnesota  |   Missouri  |   Montana  |   New Jersey  |   New York  |   North Carolina  |   Ohio  |   Oklahoma  |   Tennessee  |   Utah  |   Virginia  |   Washington  |   Wisconsin  |   Washington, D.C.  |   British Columbia  |   Awards, nationwide  |   Articles, Editorials, Blogs, Surveys, Interviews, Podcasts  |  



Visit and read the Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation for more information.





Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

March 13 – 19

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix, Arizona has organized a fun and informative way of opening government: a public records scavenger hunt. The school is inviting journalism students to take part in a hunt for public records and you can read more about it here.


Open San Diego

March 13 – 19

SAN DIEGO, CA — The fact of the matter is that emerging digital technologies and public resources mean that everyone can play the watchdog, not just the political and media elite.

March 13 through 19 is “Sunshine Week,” a national effort by media organizations and open-government advocates to promote access to public information. Working with the fledgling data organization, Open San Diego, CityBeat is launching a special Sunshine Week website:

The site is a collection of more than 200 bookmarks (and growing) organized to help local citizens navigate the maze of public-records data evolving out of the growing culture of transparency.


App MapSacramento 2011 Sunshine Week Program: The Road Forward on Open Government

Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.Maplink

Pacific McGeorge School of Law
Classroom D
3285 Fifth Avenue
(The N.W. corner of 5th Ave and 33rd Street)
Sacramento, CA 95817
Registration Fee:  $20.00 per person ($25.00 at the door)
Students:  $15.00 per student ($20.00 at the door)
Continental Breakfast and Lunch will be served
Parking is free.  Link to campus map & Parking Areas A-J at
The Classroom  D  is location 9 on the map

President Obama committed his administration to an unprecedented openness in government. Toward this end, the administration issued a number of policy changes, including a Memorandum of Freedom of Information Act, a new Executive Order (EO) on Classified National Security and an EO on Controlled Unclassified Information. Two panels of transparency experts from inside and outside government will discuss how the administration’s initiatives are being put into practice — from both a policy and a technical standpoint — and what more we can and should expect the Administration to do to meet its goal.

  • The first panel will cover the policy aspects of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative. Invited panelists include David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, Steven P. Croley, Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy, and Gary Bass, Executive Director, OMB Watch.
  • Speakers on the second panel will discuss the effect technology has on the way people get and use information, how the government is trying to fill that need, and the strengths and limitations of the Administration’s approach. OpenTheGovernment.Org will soon announce the panelists.

See a PDF of the flier here.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011; 5:30-8:30 p.m.

UC Hastings College of the Law
Classroom B
198 McAllister, San Francisco, CA 94102

The SLA/NOCALL sponsored event will feature a local panel of speakers discussing WikiLeaks as it relates to (and provides an alternative to) our current concepts of Open Government, as well as the bigger picture impact of WikiLeaks on the ways we access information. Confirmed panelists include:

  • Declan McCullagh, chief political correspondent for CNET, award-winning journalist, and frequent writer and speaker about technology, law, and politics. From 1998 to 2002, Declan was Wired’s Washington bureau chief.
  • Rainey Reitman, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s activism lead. Her work focuses on WikiLeaks and the intersection between personal privacy and technology, particularly social networking privacy, locational privacy and online data brokers. She serves as a steering committee member for the Bradley Manning Support Network.
  • James Jacobs, Government Documents Librarian at Stanford and one of the founders of the Free Government Information blog (

See a PDF of the flier here.


Modesto Bee Sunshine Week Open Government Proclamation

March 13 – 19

Section 1

WHEREAS, James Madison, the father of our federal Constitution, wrote that “consent of the governed” requires that the people be able to “arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives,” and

WHEREAS, every citizen in our participatory democracy has an inherent right to access to government meetings and public records; and

Read the rest here.

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National FOI Day at the first annual Florida Sunshine Summit

Wednesday, March 16, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Doors open and registration begins at 6:30 p.m. University of South Florida/Tampa, Communications & Information Sciences Building, Room 1048

Come help us celebrate National Freedom of Information Day at USF the evening of March 16. Citizens, journalists, and attorneys will engage in a lively discussion about Florida’s famed open government laws and their struggles accessing the records and meetings of our government. During the second half of the program, representatives of various state organizations – the Attorney General’s Office, Governor Rick Scott’s Office of Open Government, the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, and the First Amendment Foundation – will provide helpful information and advice, and Ken Bunting, director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, will talk about the Knight FOI Litigation grant fund, administered by the NFOIC.

Famed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist LUCY MORGAN will kick off the evening as our keynote speaker, and JON KANEY, senior counsel for the First Amendment Foundation, will serve as moderator.

Best of all? It’s FREE!

You can pre-register by emailing or calling the First Amendment Foundation, 800/337-3518. Check for updates below and at


See a PDF of the flier here and visit for more details.

Florida press here:



Brechner Center for Freedom of Information

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information created an Open Government Pledge last fall.

Elected officials serving Florida in state, local or federal capacities are encouraged to sign the Brechner Center’s Open Government Pledge in order to demonstrate their commitment to governmental transparency.

Officials who sign the pledge will be listed on the Brechner Center’s website.>

See for more.

The pledge reads:

I believe that open and transparent government is essential to our democracy.Florida’s citizens have both constitutional and statutory guarantees of access to government records and meetings, and access to this information is vital for citizens to exercise their political power.

I pledge to abide by the spirit and letter of Florida’s Public Records and Open Meetings Laws. I will also uphold citizens’ constitutional right of access as established by the Florida Constitution. I will make diligent efforts to ensure that my employees and colleagues understand and promote compliance with open government laws.

Further, I agree to use mobile electronic communications or social media for public business only if the proper systems are in place to capture and retain these public records. I will also support efforts to place government information online whenever possible in order to facilitate access for Florida citizens.

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Peoria Journal Star

March 13 – 19

In Illinois, the Peoria Journal Star asked their readers to send in stories of how the revised Freedom of Information Act law has affected them in dealing with governmental entities. As a way of observing Sunshine Week, the stories will be published on while some may be published in the Journal Star.

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Iowa FOI Council celebrates Sunshine Week 2011

March 13 – 19

DES MOINES, IA — The Iowa Freedom of Information Council will celebrate Sunshine Week 2011 by encouraging community conversations throughout the state on the importance of open government.

Sunshine Week, this year scheduled for March 13-19, is an annual national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of government transparency and freedom of information. Sunshine Week is a nonpartisan, non-profit event.

The Iowa FOI Council is encouraging its members to reach out during Sunshine Week by speaking to community organizations, school classes and other gatherings as part of a statewide public education campaign. The Council is jumpstarting these conversations by distributing a list of suggested “talking points” for public talks.

The Council is a coalition of journalists, librarians, educators, attorneys and others devoted to open government.

For more information, contact Kathleen Richardson, executive secretary of the Iowa FOI Council, at (515) 271-2295 or The Council’s web address is

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New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance celebrates Sunshine Week 2011

March 13 – 19

NEW ORLEANS, LA — The New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG) formed out of a heightened recognition in post-Katrina/Rita/Gustav New Orleans and the region that the old ways of exclusion from decision-making threatened the equity and sustainability of city/region.

NOCOG seeks more open, responsive, and accountable government and governance by promoting community engagement in civic discussions and decisions, increasing access to public data and information, supporting media and communications that inform and equip stakeholders, and seeking beneficial public policy and structural developments.

NOCOG believes that through increased community engagement in civic decision-making; increased access to public data and information; media and communications that inform and equip stakeholders; and public policy and structural developments, this mission can be realized.

Plans for Sunshine Week:

  • Soft launch of the NOCOG website.
  • Fact sheets will be posted on website.
  • Fact sheets will be distributed through NOCOG newsletter, posted via Facebook.
  • Neighborhood Partnership Network (NPN) will post fact sheet excerpts in newspaper.
  • NPN to promote fact sheets through their blog and via Facebook and Twitter.

Long-Term Goals:

  • To support the creation of the structures and culture of openness and transparency, thereby transforming the relationship between governance entities and the public;
  • To mobilize institutions, communities of place and interest, and individuals to advocate for decision-making, public policy, and legislation that is transparent and accountable;
  • To make public information more widely accessible and provide analyses that support advocacy;
  • To equip New Orleans to contribute to national initiatives to increase transparency and openness, and strengthen our democracy.

See a brief PDF introduction here and visit them on Facebook.

Also see these PDFs:

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Maine Freedom of Information Coalition (MFOIC)

March 13 – 19

The MFOIC will give its annual Sunshine in Government award at a State House news conference. The Governor will proclaim the week Sunshine Week in Maine. The legislature will pass a joint resolution on the importance of openness and transparency in government.

See for previous years’ proclamations.

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2011 John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award

Wednesday, March 16; 12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m. Minneapolis Central Library 300 Nicollet Mall – Pohlad Auditorium – 2nd floor

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

A PDF version of the release is available here.

Learn more about past Finnegan Award winners.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information.

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Open Missouri Day

Thursday, March 17

Register now for Open Missouri Day March 17 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo. It promises to be a great opportunity for you to learn how you can benefit from the explosion in government data right here in the Show-Me State. Registration is free.

State and local government agencies are collecting and storing massive amounts of public information in computerized form. We’re going show how Missouri journalists and news organizations already are using data for their stories, graphics and websites. Also, we have a great lineup of open-government advocates, journalists and government officials who’ll provide guidance about how to effectively use the Missouri Sunshine Law to get the data you need.

Bill Allison, the editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to deliver the keynote address about how journalists can tap into the rich well of government data. Trainers from Investigative Reporters and Editors will lead optional hands-on classes in finding, downloading and using state and local government data.

You can track the full program and register at

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Montana Freedom of Information Hotline, Inc.

March 13 – 19

As in past years, Ian Marquand, chair of the Montana FOI Hotline, will be sending a guest column to Montana newspapers through the Montana Newspaper Association.

The idea is for the dailies to publish it on Sunday, with weekly papers during the ensuing week. Work is also being done to encourage newspapers to publish editorials in support of open government and FOI.

Let’s follow Florida and shine light on public’s right to know access
It isn’t often that Montanans can say, “Thank you, Florida.” This time of year, however, the Big Sky owes the Sunshine State a tip of the cap.

Other papers that ran the Montana FOI Hotline guest column during Sunshine Week:


  • Montana Standard (Butte)
  • Daily Interlake (Kalispell)
  • Havre Daily News


  • Sidney Herald-Leader
  • Valley Journal (Ronan)
  • Jefferson County Courier (Clancy)
  • Anaconda Leader
  • Dillon Tribune
  • Boulder Monitor
  • Bitterroot Star (Stevensville)
  • Valierian (Valier)
  • Big Horn County News (Hardin)
  • Judith Basin Press (Stanford)


More below.

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New Jersey

Little Falls Town Council

Monday, March 14

The Little Falls (N.J.) town council will introduce a “Sunshine Week Proclamation” at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, March 14, 2011.

Little Falls Town Council Agenda is available at[1].pdf

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New York

The Town of Wappinger in Duchess County, New York

Tuesday, March 15

The Town of Wappinger in Duchess County, New York will be hosting an open government seminar on March 15 with Robert Freeman of the New York Senate Open Government Committee as speaker. Town Clerk Chris Masterson will be on hand to help interested participants to register and submit their questions to Freeman. The town’s website has more.

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North Carolina

Panel on free speech, movie screening

Monday, March 14

The North Carolina State University (NCSU) chapter of the Society for Collegiate Journalists will be sponsoring a panel discussion the Monday after Spring Break and a movie screening the next night as part of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know, including the NCSU Student Media.

Anyone can be a part of Sunshine Week. The coalition of supporters is broad and deep. Individual participation can make all the difference. The extent to which you participate is up to you. You could attend the panel discussion, the movie screening—and ask questions—or you could just discuss free speech and open government during lunch.


  • Joseph Caddell, NCSU adjunct professor, history
  • Ann Sides, consul general, retired
  • Elizabeth Spainhour, attorney, Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP
  • Mike Tadych, attorney, Stevens, Martin, Vaughn & Tadych, PLLC
  • Robert Kochersberger, NCSU associate professor, English

More information at


Sunshine Day in North Carolina

Thursday, March 17

Join the North Carolina Open Government Coalition for “Sunshine Day in North Carolina: Securing a future for dialogue on open government” on Thursday, March 17 at the Historic Salisbury Foundation train depot.

The schedule for the one-day conference will include:

  • 11:30 a.m.: Welcome, lunch and keynote address (NCOGC President Rick Willis will provide the welcome, and University of North Carolina System President Tom Ross will deliver the keynote)
  • 1:00 p.m.: Covering university trouble and contending with FERPA
  • 2:00 p.m.: Access to local government records
  • 3:00 p.m.: Using the new state personnel law

Who should attend: Citizens, journalists, government employees, librarians, lawyers, historians, public officials, anyone and everyone!

Where: Historic Salisbury Foundation, 215 Depot St., Salisbury, NC 28144 (exit 76 off I-85)

Cost: $30 (includes lunch). Student registration is $20. **Add $10 and join the NC Open Government Coalition for 2011 (normal annual dues $25)

Would your organization like to sponsor a table, which covers the registration cost for every individual at your table? Your table will include a table tent announcing your much-appreciated sponsorship.

Table sponsorship for a full table of eight individuals is $400 and for a half table of four is $250. Please indicate your level of sponsorship below and include payment information where indicated.

The N.C. Open Government Coalition is working to endow its educational efforts with the Sunshine Center. Please consider a gift to our endowment when you register for Sunshine Day so that we can continue our educational programming in the state.

Questions? Contact Pamela Baker at the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition at 336-278-5724 or e-mail


The city of Cary, North Carolina

The city of Cary, North Carolina is providing educational opportunities for staff and elected officials as a way of increasing awareness of “Sunshine laws” during Sunshine Week. The city has also updated its website to help citizens access public records and answer queries on how to submit public records requests. In addition, an audio message from the city’s mayor Harold Weinbrecht has been uploaded to the website to show the progress the city is making in open government.

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Ohio Sunshine Summit

February 26

(The date above is not incorrect; the event already has occurred. However, it was a great event, and we felt like publicizing it, nonetheless.)

The Ohio Sunshine Summit is a one-day journalism conference bringing together student journalists and professionals from Ohio and beyond to discuss the latest press freedom issues confronting student journalists today.

Across the Buckeye State, there is hostility toward journalists-in-training by our higher education system. A 2006 audit shows nearly 60 percent of basic public records were unavailable to student journalists on Ohio campuses. With tough budget decisions on the horizon, the time for transparency is now!

THE GOAL: At the conference, we will draft a policy to propose to the Ohio Board of Regents and the University System of Ohio. This policy will standardize open meeting and open record policies in Ohio. This will be done through a series of panels, guest speakers and breakout sessions which will educate journalists throughout Ohio about current laws, university policies, and how to protect their rights as student journalists.

WHO IS BEHIND IT? The 2011 Ohio Sunshine Summit is sponsored by the Ohio University Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

Visit for more details.

Also, see the Ohio Newspaper Association Bulletin for more headlines this week, including:

Ohio forecast is cloudy at start of Sunshine Week
Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director, Ohio News Bulletin
Open government is an issue that should unite citizens whether their party affiliation is Democrat, Republican or Tea.

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Freedom of Information Oklahoma

Kicks off March 12

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Sunshine Week in Oklahoma kicks off this Saturday in Oklahoma City with Sunshine ’11: Putting Muscle Behind Oklahoma’s FOI Laws.

Sunshine Week, this year scheduled for March 13-19, is an annual national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of government transparency and freedom of information. Sunshine Week is a nonpartisan, non-profit event.

The keynote speaker will be Bob Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government.

A PDF version of the release is available here.

More information can be found at

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(The following two events will be taking place after Sunshine Week officially ends; however, we want to help publicize them as much as possible.)

University of Memphis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

Thursday, March 24; University of Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN — Did the news media help convict three men of murder in West Memphis, Ark., in 1993? What is the media’s role in attempts to get the convictions overturned? Can a journalist objectively report about a sensational murder case while still advocating for justice?

These questions will be examined at the 27th Annual Freedom of Information Congress at the University of Memphis at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 24, in the University Center Theater. It is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the U of M Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the congress, titled “The Media’s Role in the WM3 Case,” features keynote speaker Mara Leveritt, author of Devil’s Knot. A panel discussion following Leveritt’s speech will include Lorri Davis, wife of Damien Echols, one of the three men convicted of murder in the case, along with local journalists who have covered the case.

The West Memphis 3 case involved the deaths of three 8-year-old boys who were found beaten and killed in West Memphis on May 6, 1993. Echols, who was 18 at the time, is on death row and two others remain in prison on life sentences

Since the convictions, questions have been raised about the case and whether the three were responsible. The Arkansas Supreme Court is currently reviewing Echol’s conviction to determine whether there should be a new trial.

For more information, visit here or: Contact SPJ President Chelsea Boozer,; SPJ advisor Dr. Tom Hrach, (901) 678-4779.


East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists: Justice, Media and the People’s Right to Know

Friday, April 1, 2011 – 8:00 a.m.; Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

KNOXVILLE, TN — The East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists (ETSPJ) is hosting an all-day conference on “Justice, Media and the People’s Right to Know – Inherent Tensions and Practical Implications in a Free Society.”

The event is free (including lunch!). The program is designed for journalists, citizens, and public records administrators who are all invited to attend.

There will be panel discussions with an impressive lineup of experts including Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade and Knox County Circuit Court Judge Dale Workman, along with prominent local attorneys, law enforcement officials, educators and journalists. Alex S. Jones, a native East Tennessean and now director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, will deliver the keynote address.

Registration is required and must be received by March 25 or until full. Sponsors are planning for a maximum of 100 attendees at the Toyota Auditorium event, with some overflow seating possible.

A PDF version of the release is available here.

See here for more information.

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Utah Society of Professional Journalists and The League of Women Voters

March 16, 7 p.m.; City Library, Lower level, Rooms A & B

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Join like-minded citizens who abhor HB477 and get educated about the bill and GRAMA.

Hear from speakers about the ethical ramifications, what the entire nation is saying about Utah (it’s not complimentary).

Learn from Jeff Hunt, one of the framers of GRAMA, why it doesn’t need to be fixed to protect your privacy and the privacy of your legislators.

Get a breakdown of the actual impact HB477 will have on your life.

Then get organized. Strategize with other individuals and groups about what to do from here to lay this bill to rest.

For more information, call Linda Petersen at 801-554-7513.

A PDF version of the release is available here.

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Virginia Coalition for Open Government

March 13 – 19

VIRGINIA: The Virginia Coalition for Open Government, a non-profit “alliance formed to promote expanded access to government records, meetings and other proceedings at the state and local level” have created an audio public announcement and is encouraging the public to download it as an awareness campaign for the public’s right to know.

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Your Government: Tried, true and new ways to keep it open and accountable

Tuesday, March 15, 2011; 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.; The Seattle Times Fairview Ave & John Street

SEATTLE, WA — The Seattle Times and the Washington Coalition for Open Government will present a free public discussion entitled “Your Government: Tried, true and new ways to keep it open and accountable” from 6:00 to 8:30 PM on Tuesday, March 15 at The Seattle Times, Fairview Avenue and John Street in Seattle.

A panel of expert speakers will lead the discussion on how citizens can keep government open and accountable to better serve the people of the state, and how technology is empowering more citizens to do so.

King 5 News reporter Owen Lei will moderate the discussion. The panelists will include:

  • Mike Fancher, vice president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) and retired executive editor of The Times;
  • Matt Rosenberg of Public Eye Northwest, an independent non-profit dedicated to boosting digital civic literacy, building community news creation capacity, and best practices in voluntary government transparency;
  • Meredith Mechling, a citizen who waged a successful open-government battle with the city of Monroe, for which she received an award from WCOG;
  • Jim Neff, The Seattle Times Investigations Editor.

For more information, visit

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Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (FOIC)

March 13 – 19

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council will give its annual Opee Awards for achievements in open government.

Read about last year’s awards here.

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Washington, D.C.

Monday, March 14

Tuesday, March 15

Wednesday, March 16

  • Organization: Freedom Forum
    Event: 13th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference
    Location: Knight Conference Center at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
    Time: 8:30 am – 4:15 pm
  • The Public Interest Declassification Board will host a panel discussion at the Newseum in conjunction with the First Amendment Center’s full-day conference in commemoration of National Freedom of Information Day. “Technology, Classification, Declassification, and the Public Interest” will take place from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm.  If you have not yet registered for this event, please contact the First Amendment Center at 202/292-6288 or
    That day the Board will also open its blog, Transforming Classification, for public comment.  The purpose of this blog is to solicit public comment on the Board’s draft proposals to the President for transforming the classification system.  The Board will begin their conversation with posts on using technology to improve the de/classification system and rethinking information management in the electronic environment.  Subsequent posts will detail initiatives to speed up declassification reviews, level the classification system, and ensure declassification reviews of historical nuclear information and historical Congressional records. 

    The blog will be open for comment from March 16 to May 4.  The URL is

Thursday, March 17

Friday, March 18

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

  • Media Access to Government Information Conference (MAGIC)
    8:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
    National Archives Building
    (Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue, see map)
    William G. McGowan Theatre
    700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW,
    Washington, DC 20408

    The National Archives and Records Administration and Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy will host the Media Access to Government Information Conference (MAGIC) on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011, from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., with a networking reception from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

    The event will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. This conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required (e-mail A continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshments will be provided.

    For more, see

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British Columbia

FOI talk with Sean Holman

Friday, March 18, 3:00 p.m.

  • Martlet Office (Room B011)
  • Student Union Building
  • University of Victoria
  • Victoria, B.C.
  • Canada

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Awards, nationwide

National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame

Awarded March 16 at the National Freedom of Information Day Conference

WASHINGTON — The 13th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference will be held Wednesday, March 16, at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Hosted each year by the First Amendment Center, the conference brings together open records advocates, government officials, judges, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others to discuss timely issues related to transparency in government and public access to official records.

The program is conducted in partnership with the American Library Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OMB Watch,, and the National Security Archive at George Washington University; and in cooperation with the annual Sunshine Week initiative sponsored by the American Society of News Editors.

The conference includes the announcement by the American Library Association of recipients of its annual James Madison Award. The ALA presents the Madison award to individuals or groups that have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know.

This year’s conference also will feature the induction of one or more nominees into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, honoring those who have made significant contributions to protecting and expanding access to government information. The Hall was created in 1996 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the federal Freedom of Information Act. In addition to the charter class in 1996, a new class of inductees has been installed every five years (2001 and 2006). (See information, members of the Hall of Fame.)

The conference, a full day of panel discussions and presentations, begins with registration at 8:30 a.m. ET. As the conference agenda is finalized, program details will be announced on this website.


“Local Heroes” across America — Updated

Washington State Woman Wins Sunshine Week Contest

RESTON, Va. – Sunshine Week 2011 (March 13-19) will highlight “Local Heroes” across America who have played significant roles in fighting for open government, the American Society of News Editors announced Thursday.

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Free materials that individuals and organizations can use to participate in Sunshine Week are available on the project’s website.

“As a society, we often associate the word ‘hero’ with movie stars and athletes,” said Tim Franklin, co-chair of the ASNE Freedom of Information Committee. Franklin is the Louis A. Weil Jr. Endowed Chair and Director of the National Sports Journalism Center at the Indiana University School of Journalism in Bloomington. “But in a self-governing democracy like ours, it takes the commitment and passion of average citizens doing extraordinary things to make government more open and more accountable.

“The ASNE Sunshine Week Local Heroes winners won’t be seen on the big screen or on ‘Sports Center’ highlights. The largely unknown winners in this contest, however, will be heroes to anyone who pays taxes and votes in a local community — in other words, to every single resident who lives there.” The winner of the Local Heroes contest will receive an expenses-paid trip in April to San Diego to be honored by the nation’s newsroom leaders at the 2011 ASNE convention. Second- and third-place winners will receive $500 and $250 prizes, respectively.


Black Hole Award

Award announced during Sunshine Week — Updated

SPJ Black Hole Award for 2011 goes to the Utah Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert

The Society of Professional Journalists is creating a new award this year, the Black Hole Award.

The Black Hole serves as the counterpoint to the Sunshine Award, highlighting a particularly heinous violation of the public’s right to know.

By exposing the bad actors, we hope to educate members of the public to their rights and call attention to those who would interfere with the people’s right to acquire government information so that they may hold their elected officials accountable and enhance self-governance.

Here are the conditions nomination should meet:

  1. Violation, in spirit or letter, of any federal or state open-government law. This would mean either a clear violation of the statute governing access to public records or public meetings, or using an ambiguity or loophole in the law to avoid having to comply with the law. For example, conducting multiple meetings with small groups that do not constitute a quorum, e-mail discussions outside the public view, or charging unreasonable amounts to copy documents.
  2. Egregiousness. In order to maintain the effectiveness of the Black Hole award, it should not be given for just any openness violation. There needs to be a demonstration that this was not an isolated incident or done in relative ignorance. Recipients should know they are trampling on the public’s right, placing personal or political interests ahead of the public good or endangering public welfare. Examples might include an agency or official who attempted to keep information secret to avoid embarrassment or hide misdeeds.
  3. Impact. The case should be one that affects the public rather than an individual. We want to avoid using the award to settle vendettas against recalcitrant bureaucrats. Essentially we want to see a case where their withholding the information hurt the general public rather than an individual, or its release would further public welfare.

Note: This new, nationally focused effort was inspired by the Utah Headliners, SPJ’s state chapter, which has been giving out its own state Black Hole Award for quite some time.


Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame

Awarded at the 2011 FOI Summit in Providence, RI, on May 21

Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame is a joint venture by the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Freedom of Information Coalition. It was developed by leaders in both organizations as a way to recognize long-term contributions of individuals to open government in their respective states.

Specifically, induction into the Hall recognizes “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”

Each spring, one person will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The announcements will be made at the 2011 FOI Summit jointly sponsored by SPJ and NFOIC.

Visit for more information, and see a list of past inductees to the Open Government Hall of Fame at

All nominees will be evaluated by a screening committee of SPJ and NFOIC leaders, who will select the winners.

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Articles, Editorials, Blogs, Surveys, Interviews, Podcasts

From around the country

March 22

Sunshine Week Shame: 10 Ways the Government Is Opaque
As Sunshine Week sets, it’s a good time to take a quick inventory of the federal government’s ongoing failures of transparency. …

March 21

District spends more than $30,000 on out-of-district travel this year
from The
NEWTON — Editor’s note: This story is part of the Kansan’s coverage for Sunshine Week, which is an event that encourages open government.

Creve Coeur council member wins Sunshine Hero award
The Missouri Sunshine Coalition has honored Jeanne Rhoades, a Creve Coeur City Council member, for efforts that promote open records and transparency in government.   

POGO at Sunshine Week Hearing: Bring FOIA Out of the Dark Ages
By Bryan Rahija
In case you missed it amid all the other open gov hullabaloo, late last week POGO Director of Public Policy Angela Canterbury shared POGO’s views on the state of government openness as a panelist on a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing. You can view footage of her testimony below (starts at the 35:59 mark).

March 20

Jonathan Turley, Submitted By Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger
It wasn’t discussed much in the Corporate Mass Media, but this past week was dubbed, Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week was supposed to celebrate “open Government practices”. I for one, wasn’t convinced that our government had any “open” practices.

Sunshine Week
There have been times in recent years when the Sunshine Law, the name for the open records law in Missouri, has been used purely for political purposes. At both the state and local levels, the Sunshine Law has been used irresponsibly by a few politicians and some media to make life difficult for political foes, usually by skewing context. That’s unfortunate.

SUNSHINE WEEK: Digital records outpace state law
Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
The information age has made more government documents available to the public than ever before, but experts say open records laws themselves are behind the times.

Sunshine Week ends – but principle doesn’t
Nashua Telegraph
Sunshine Week is now over – at least officially.
No more stories with the logo depicting the sun peeking out from behind the capitol dome that proclaims: “Sunshine Week: Your Right to Know.”

March 18 – 19

Sunshine Week celebrates openness in government
Joplin Globe
News organizations and watchdog groups across the country are wrapping up Sunshine Week, an initiative designed to highlight the importance of open government. The laws, commonly called sunshine laws, vary among states, but each generally requires that …

Battles Over Open Government Cast Shadow on ‘Sunshine Week’
AOL News
In the middle of Sunshine Week promoting transparency in government, open-government advocates say the apparent demotion of a high-level Department of Homeland Security employee for whistle-blowing is particularly dark. “Our government is sending the …

Sunshine week coinciding with related court cases
Wisconsin Radio Network
It’s been an action packed time for open government during Sunshine Week. Governor Walker’s office this week settled a lawsuit brought forth by the Wisconsin Associated Press and Madison weekly newspaper, the Isthmus. …

Sunshine Week promotes openness in government
Mountain Mail Newspaper
Salidan John Graham has been working to promote open dialogue between citizens and government since about a year ago, when he became board president of Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability. …

Let the Sunshine In | Peer to Peer Review
Library Journal
It’s Sunshine Week, the annual reminder that open government is good for democracy, that information is important, that freedom is protected when people are vigilant about their right to know what our government is up to. Started in 2002 by a Florida …

March 17

Transparency in government: Is it a reality?
Legal Talk Network
Attorneys and co-hosts Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams welcome Mark Rumold, the Open Government Legal Fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Kenneth Bunting, Executive Director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, to take a look inside Sunshine Week. Mark and Ken discuss which states have made the most strides for transparency, if technological advances are helping governments be more transparent and why it is important for government to stay transparent.
MP3 Link:

Let the Sun Shine in Berkeley Too
The Berkeley Daily Planet
This week is Sunshine Week all over the United States. What, you may ask, is Sunshine Week? It’s sponsored by American Society of Newspaper Editors, joined by the National Freedom of Information Coalition, California’s First Amendment Coalition and many other groups.

Why government’s doors must be open
By Ken Paulson, President, First Amendment Center
This is Sunshine Week, a national effort organized by the American Society of News Editors, the news media and open-government advocates. It’s an annual reminder of the importance of the free flow of information in a democracy. Taxpayers hire public employees to serve and protect, not to keep secrets from them.

N.C. open records requests can drag on
BY FRED CLASEN-KELLY, Charlotte Observer
Under North Carolina’s open records laws, anyone who wants government documents is supposed to get them as soon as possible. But agencies can take weeks, months or even longer to produce public information. The delays often force citizens to rely on persistence or simply luck. Joann Hager, a Lincoln County animal rights activist, has tested the statutes–and two times, she says, they failed her.

Sunshine Week highlights threats to open government
by Frank Gibson, Tennessee Coalition for Open Government
Sunshine Week, which kicked off Sunday, started almost a decade ago when 150 proposals in the Florida legislature threatened to turn the Sunshine State’s model “government in the sunshine” law into Swiss cheese. Newspapers mounted “Sunshine Sunday” — a campaign reminding Floridians of the high level of openness they enjoyed, highlighting the benefits of government transparency and detailing potential consequences of the proposals. Only a few passed.

Sunshine Week: Optimism through the Clouds
by The Sunlight Foundation
After launching Sunshine Week with yesterday’s successful Advisory Committee on Transparency event, it’s a good time to reflect on positive transparency developments around the country (as opposed to yesterday’s disheartening news).

Storm clouds are gathering over Sunshine Week
by Penny Lee, in The Hill
It is hard to disagree with the administration’s philosophy of promoting open government and freedom of information. However, actions speak louder than words, and it is clear that there are a number of dark and stormy clouds hovering over Sunshine Week.

March 16

Mo. State Auditor Schweich recognizes Sunshine Week
JEFFERSON CITY – State Auditor Tom Schweich  today promoted increased transparency in government in recognition of March 13-19, 2011 as Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote freedom of information in local, state and federal government. The initiative was launched by the American Society of News Editors in 2005.

State auditor will monitor responses to public record requests
By Marc Kovac,
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said he will begin monitoring state and local agencies’ responses to public records’ requests as part of his office’s annual check of financial books.

Washington State Woman Wins Sunshine Week Contest
Editor & Publisher
The announcement of the Local Heroes kicks off Sunshine Week, which began yesterday. Howell will accept her award at the ASNE Convention, April 6-9, at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina. Howell, a former Stevenson school board member, got involved …

Sunshine Week: Do Open Government Laws Still Matter in the Era of WikiLeaks?
Electronic Frontier Foundation
March 14-18, 2011 is “Sunshine Week”—a week to focus on the importance of open government and how we can ensure accountability for our leaders at the federal, state and local levels.

Editorial: How to fix a hole in Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, By The Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board
Following is one of a series of Press editorials during Sunshine Week, established by the American Society of News Editors to celebrate and safeguard open and transparent government. A Michigan Court of Appeals …

Susy Schultz: It’s a week to think about doing government business in the sunshine
Kankakee Daily Journal
Sunshine Week is to remind people what it should look like when government is open, transparent and respects the freedom of information that really equates to the public’s right to know what the government it funds is doing with that money. …

Records become public for sunshine week
A & T Register
These records not only include official reports and minutes of meetings, but also items like hand-written notes, phone messages, e-mails, databases, spreadsheets – nearly anything created or received by a government agency while conducting the public’s …

Editorial: Sunshine Week Governor less than open with last-minute release
Naples Daily News
Amid this Sunshine Week, which observes the importance of Florida’s open records and open meetings laws, the leadership style of Gov. Rick Scott invites attention. Only a short time before a meeting with the Cabinet the other day, Scott passed out …

Sunshine Week: Optimism through the Clouds – Sunlight Foundation
By Ellen Miller
After launching Sunshine Week with yesterday’s successful Advisory Committee on Transparency event, it’s a good time to reflect on positive transparency developments around the country (as opposed to yesterday’s disheartening news).

Sunshine Week; Spelman STEM; LBGTQ Wedding Service : The Michael Eric Dyson Show
This week in March marks Sunshine Week, an initiative that emphasizes the need for government openness and transparency. Andy Alexander, spokesperson for the American Society of News Editors, which sponsors Sunshine Week, discusses the …

Sunshine Week Arrives at GSA
from the U.S. General Services Administration
Learn about all of GSA’s Open Government initiatives. GSA invites the public to play an active role in our government. …

March 15

Glass half full
from the National Security Archive
Washington, D.C., March 14, 2011 – The Obama administration is only about halfway toward its promise of improving Freedom of Information responsiveness among federal agencies, according to the new Knight Open Government Survey by the National Security Archive, released Monday for Sunshine Week at

SPJ ‘honoring’ Utah governor for closing records
from Cache Valley Daily
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The national Society of Professional Journalists plans to present Gov. Gary Herbert with a first-ever Black Hole award Wednesday to highlight the law, which increases fees for records request and makes text messages private.

U.S. alone among Western democracies in protecting hate speech
Commentary by Peter Scheer, Executive Director, FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION
An inebriated John Galliano, sitting in a Paris bar, unleashes an anti-Semitic rant (“I love Hitler”) that is captured on a cellphone camera and posted on the internet. Within days the Dior designer is not only fired from his job, but is given a trial date to face criminal charges for his offensive remarks.

Shining A Light On Open Government
Spread a little sunshine and celebrate freedom of information in our democracy during Sunshine Week, March 13-19. Sunshine Week, March 13-19, is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of …

Sunshine mixed with clouds, rain
Laconia Citizen
@Editorial body:Although the forecast for later this week tells us to expect rain, we still celebrate these few days as Sunshine Week, a time for us to remember our very special form of government, which calls upon elected officials to do the public’s …

Some Feds keep the shades drawn on Sunshine Week
OhMyGov! (blog)
That’s right kids, we’re talkin’ Sunshine Week! For those not in the know (ie anyone who doesn’t consider Jay Carney an A-List celebrity), Sunshine Week is an annual event founded by the American Society of News Editors and funded largely by the John …

FdL, NFdL Schools provide open records for Sunshine Week
Fond du Lac Reporter
Sunshine Week, which started Sunday, is an annual initiative to promote freedom of information. Participants include news gathering organizations, civic groups, libraries, nonprofit groups, schools and others. Five Gannett Wisconsin newspapers, …

Sunshine Week Feature: Politicians embrace social media & technology
By Robert Rizzuto, The Republican Among the millions of people tweeting, blogging or posting their thoughts to Facebook each day are an increasing numbers of politicians. While office holders use these platforms to promote their efforts or to draw …
Open government doesn’t just happen
Visalia Times-Delta
Here during Sunshine Week, it is another indication that the objective of completely open government is an ideal that is rarely realized. CalAware sampled 197 school districts in California at random to assess their compliance with public records …

GRAY MATTER: Let’s bring the sunshine back to Spring Grove government
Spring Grove Herald
By Heather M. Gray This week is what is known as “Sunshine Week,” which is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors. …

Here are ways to learn about your lawmakers
Fond du Lac Reporter
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and citizens interested in the public’s …

Openness laws play critical role in bringing investigations of crime and government to light in Oklahoma
March 13-19 is Sunshine Week, a national effort to promote open government. BY BRYAN DEAN Leave a comment Political candidates with criminal backgrounds and financial problems; accusations of incompetence, laziness and fraud at the …
Obama wants it both ways on Sunshine Week | Examiner Editorial …
By Examiner Editorial
James Madison’s birthday will be celebrated Wednesday at the Newseum with the induction of a new class of members into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, to be hosted by the First Amendment Center.

Lawmakers attack public access during Sunshine Week | theCLog
By Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman
Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the …

Happy Sunshine Week | Capital Blog
By mkovac
Happy Sunshine Week. Posted on March 15, 2011 by mkovac. Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann talks about the state’s open meetings and public records laws in this state-produced clip that was distributed with the 2008 Ohio Sunshine …

Welcome to Sunshine Week « VIVIAN J. PAIGE | All Politics is Local
By Mark Brooks
This is the 7th Annual Sunshine Week and is being celebrated by lovers of open government all over the country. Started by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and supported through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight …

Track headlines about Sunshine Week and government transparency …
By Robertson Adams
Each year, the media and civic groups celebrate Sunshine Week – a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information. So far, the effort has spurred articles calling for transparency in Michigan’s campaign finance …
Sunshine Week | Richmond Times-Dispatch
“There’s no law that says how you keep a record. That’s why you have a lack of uniformity,” – Maria J.K. Everett of the Virginia Freedom of Information …

Sunshine Week is reminder to protect Right-to-Know law
Pennsylvanians have reason to celebrate during Sunshine Week; we’re entering the third year of the new Right-To-Know Law, which finally allowed us to look …

March 14

Let’s follow Florida and shine light on public’s right to know access
It isn’t often that Montanans can say, “Thank you, Florida.” This time of year, however, the Big Sky owes the Sunshine State a tip of the cap.

Support public’s right to know: On week celebrating freedom of information, back legislation preventing pre-emptive lawsuits
Missoulian editorial
At about this same time each year, we long for sunshine to welcome the days of spring. Meanwhile, newspapers across the country join forces in calling for sunshine – for a transparent, open government – to highlight the importance of free-flowing public information every day of the year.

Agencies struggling to meet Obama’s order on FOIA
Associated Press
Dozens of federal agencies are struggling to meet President Barack Obama’s 2-year-old order that requires the government to respond more quickly and thoroughly to request for records under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, a study finds.

See the Ohio Newspaper Association Bulletin for more headlines this week.

See the Sunshine Week Round up from the Sunlight Foundation

Knight Survey: Nearly Half of Federal Agencies Lag in Responding to FOIA Information Requests

from — Opee Awards toast open government, by Bill Leuders, president, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council   03.10.2011

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