March 18, 2010 / News

You have a right to know

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

It’s Sunshine Week, and journalists, media groups and citizens are working to highlight the public records laws meant to protect the people’s right to know what their government is doing.

Sunshine Week’s history can be traced to an effort in 2002 by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors to stop the Florida legislature from creating a large number of exemptions to the state’s public records law. Eventually, the American Society of News Editors Freedom of Information Committee began Sunshine Week in March 2005. It is celebrated each year in mid-March along with National Freedom of Information Day.

The ASNE wants people to participate in Sunshine Week by talking about the importance of open government. Yearbook staffers could do this as a class discussion, with an article in your school newspaper or a letter to the editor in your local newspaper.

According to the Sunshine Week website, awareness about citizens’ right to know has increased. More Americans now know the kinds of information they have a right to see, where and how to get it and what to do if someone tries to block it.

Elizabeth Braden, CJE
Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Elizabeth Braden, CJE, is the editor of Idea File magazine. She has been a copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks for more than 10 years, writing articles for and marketing materials, and proofreading copy for the Yearbook and Commercial divisions. She has taught at Adviser Academy. Her career has included reporting and editing for United Press International and editing for Knight-Ridder Financial News. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media News from the University of Tulsa.