Sunshine Week, March 10-16, Shines Flashlight on Dark Corners of Government

January 30, 2013

Sunshine Week, coming March 10-16, 2013, is a great opportunity for journalists to do the most important part of the job: spotlighting the very news that government officials are uncomfortable about disclosing.

Should your readers, viewers, or listeners know what chemicals are in their drinking water? Whether nearby gas pipelines and coal slurry dams have passed inspection? Whether untreated sewage could infect them if they swim? Whether they can safely eat fish from the local river? Whether a rail accident could endanger local schoolkids?

Many news media outlets plan special projects in advance and publish them during Sunshine Week. The tradition started in Florida in 2002, and was taken up by national news and media organizations in 2003. This year, primary sponsors include the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the American Society of News Editors, Bloomberg LP, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The Sunshine Week website includes examples of good freedom-of-information stories, permission-free cartoons, logos and icons, and a lot of good all-purpose story ideas.