Sunshine Week, from March 11-17, is a national campaign to promote dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. Participants included news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
NEFAC sponsored events and condemned secrecy within the federal government. The coalition temporarily changed its familiar blue logo to a sun in honor of the public awareness campaign and also published blog posts to address transparency issues in each New England state.
Sunshine Week “is an opportunity to assess local freedom of information laws,” wrote Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director, in an op/ed appearing in Gatehouse Media newspapers.
“These laws intend to shine a light, or ‘sunshine,’ on the work of government and to help citizens better understand what their elected officials are doing on their behalf,” he wrote.
In the op/ed, Silverman discussed flaws in the Massachusetts public records law, writing that “there is still too much secrecy in the Commonwealth.”
As it does every Sunshine Week, NEFAC posted FOI reports from throughout the region. These reports were written by some of the area’s leading advocates for open government and collectively provided a sense of the progress being made — and the challenges that still exist — throughout all six New England states and, more generally, throughout the country.
Making Maine and the State Judicial System More Transparent
Jim Campbell | Maine Freedom of Information Coalition
How Public Records Requests Helped Teens, But Still So Much To Do in Massachusetts
Justin Silverman | New England First Amendment Coalition
Establishing an Ombudsman for New Hampshire RTK Grievances
David Saad | Right to Know NH
Resisting Efforts to Curtail Access to Government in Connecticut
Daniel J. Klau | NEFAC, Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Losing a Sliver of Rhode Island’s History
Linda Lotridge Levin | Access/RI
In Vermont, a Mixed Bag of Open Government Rulings
Lia Ernst | NEFAC, ACLU of Vermont
Open Government is Good Government
Jim Condos | State of Vermont
The Sunshine Week campaign followed NEFAC’s New England First Amendment Awards luncheon that honored those fighting for press freedoms and government transparency.
Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, recipient of this year’s Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, cautioned against spreading misinformation and — in line with the spirit of Sunshine Week — focus instead on facts, investigative journalism and accurate information about government.
“Falsehoods uttered by politicians are of course nothing new, but what is new is that there’s now the amplification of these lies by new forms of social media,” Mayer said. “When honest, evidence-based truth or those who tell it are attacked, I hope that all of you too will jump into the fray, speak up, defend the First Amendment, have each other’s backs.”
• How Public Records Requests Helped Teens | Telegram & Gazette 3.11.18
• Area Colleges Hit, Miss in Public Access to Crime Logs | Telegram & Gazette 3.11.18
• Sunshine Week Celebrates Open Government | Athol Daily News 3.13.18
• Panels to Focus on Freedom of Information Laws for ‘Sunshine Week’ | Union Leader 3.11.18
• Sunshine Week: Right to Know Forum to Be Held in Littleton | Caledonian Record 3.9.18
• Sunshine Week: How You Can Join In | Union Leader 3.8.18