Sunshine Week

Posted on Mar 3, 2013 | Comments Off on Sunshine Week

By: Kendall Wheeler

Researching the Freedom of Information Act for the March E-xpresso eNewsletter, I stumbled upon Sunshine Week – a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information (FOI). Sunshine Week, a non-partisan, non-profit initiative, is celebrated in mid-March each year to coincide with James Madison’s birthday March 16. This year, Sunshine Week will be held March 10 – 16.

What I like most about Sunshine Week is that the people behind the initiative aren’t just throwing around words about what FOI means. They are showcasing journalists who are are using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to shed light on some interesting situations.

On the Sunshine Week FOI In Action page, 14 different news stories are featured. These articles are from different media outlets, but they all share one common denominator; article development was a direct result of findings from FOIA requests.

Below is an article that’s featured on the FOI In Action page:

Out of State Travels of Student Lender Prove Costly
Using Kentucky’s Open Records Act, the Lexington Herald-Leader discovered that the chief executive of two state agencies that lend money to college students had spent more than $50,000 on out-of-state trips, often exceeding the daily per diem limits and treating guests to $100-plus a person meals.

It’s interesting that all of the articles featured either focus on money or death. I can still hear my favorite Texas Tech journalism professor, Pete Brewton, tell our class over and over to “always follow the money.” I’ve learned this is good life advice as well.

Take a moment and check out the articles for yourself! Also, you can follow the conversation about Sunshine Week on Twitter – @SunshineWeek.