It's Sunshine Week-Do you Know Where Your City's Secrets Are?

March 12, 2008

"News is what people want to keep hidden - and everything else is publicity." Bill Moyers made famous that maxim he gleaned from a Texas mentor.

Sunshine Week 2008, running March 16-22, is a chance for environmental journalists to dig up some real news. Things people don't want the public to know. Like the amount of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. Or off-record meetings between industry lobbyists and government regulators. Or the amount of toxic chemicals an industrial plant releases.

On one level, Sunshine Week consists of a slew of panels and symposia with journalists and lawyers in Washington, DC. But the real core of Sunshine Week is an outpouring of local and regional enterprise stories that turn over rocks and show what's under them.

What is your paper, station, or website doing for Sunshine Week?

Here's a good collection of environmental disclosure stories the WatchDog bets most of its readers haven't tried yet. If that's not enough, the Society of Professional Journalists has even more ideas to try.

And here are some of the DC events:

  • National FOI Day at the new Newseum, March 14, 2008.
  • Official Sunshine Week site, DC plus all-states events listing.
  • OpenTheGovernment.org and other sponsors forum: "Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know" at the National Press Club's Holeman Lounge, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. The program includes a panel discussion of the politics of secrecy, and a demonstration of how citizens and groups are using information and technology to make their government more open and responsive.Details.
  • Sunlight Foundation and Omidyar Network, launch of a new "Change Congress" project to reveal and reform what law professor Lawrence Lessig calls the "systemic corruption of American democracy." Event: 1:30-3:00 p.m., Thursday, March 20, National Press Club. Details. Live Webcast.
  • What the Candidates Say About Secrecy.
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Sunshine Week 2008, running March 16-22, is a chance for environmental journalists to dig up some real news. Things people don't want the public to know. Like the amount of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. Or off-record meetings between industry lobbyists and government regulators. Or the amount of toxic chemicals an industrial plant releases.

On one level, Sunshine Week consists of a slew of panels and symposia with journalists and lawyers in Washington, DC. But the real core of Sunshine Week is an outpouring of local and regional enterprise stories that turn over rocks and show what's under them.

What is your paper, station, or website doing for Sunshine Week?

Here's a good collection of environmental disclosure stories the WatchDog bets most of its readers haven't tried yet. If that's not enough, the Society of Professional Journalists has even more ideas to try.

And here are some of the DC events:

  • National FOI Day at the new Newseum, March 14, 2008.
  • Official Sunshine Week site, DC plus all-states events listing.
  • OpenTheGovernment.org and other sponsors forum: "Government Secrecy: Censoring Your Right to Know" at the National Press Club's Holeman Lounge, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. The program includes a panel discussion of the politics of secrecy, and a demonstration of how citizens and groups are using information and technology to make their government more open and responsive.Details.
  • Sunlight Foundation and Omidyar Network, launch of a new "Change Congress" project to reveal and reform what law professor Lawrence Lessig calls the "systemic corruption of American democracy." Event: 1:30-3:00 p.m., Thursday, March 20, National Press Club. Details. Live Webcast.
  • What the Candidates Say About Secrecy.