Did you notice our front page?
Of course, you did. It was a white page, basically void of content: Except for that single sentence. It means the difference between knowledge and hearsay. It is about transparency and public information. As you read the guest editorials printed on this page, you’ll further understand the meaning behind our blank front page.
Bill Rogers is our Executive Director of the South Carolina Press Association. Rogers describes in great detail why we celebrate Sunshine Week. He also lays out many examples of successful Freedom of Information Act requests.
CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary reminds us that you and I have the right to know how our money is spent, how decisions are made and the only powers held by federal, state or local government are the powers we give.
We want you to know we work hard to bring light to local governmental matters but did you know you also have access through the Freedom of Information Act? Any person, whether the person is a U.S. citizen or a foreign national can access government records. Citizens have the same rights as a journalist though they might not receive the information without fees or expedited processing. In fact, a study shows citizens make more requests than media organizations.
It’s a little daunting to write a FOIA request but there are websites that can guide you. Keep in mind there are limitations to what can be accessed. The President, Congress and members of Congress, federal courts and federal judiciary are off limits.
Sunshine Week coverage is a collaborative effort between the AP, Associated Press Media Editors and the American Society of News Editors, which launched the first national Sunshine Week in 2005. The week coincides with the March 16, birthday of James Madison, father of the Constitution and a key advocate of the Bill of Rights.
Visit foia.gov to learn how to write a request and what to know before making it.
Your feedback is always welcome. Readers are encouraged to email us at email@example.com or write with your feedback, ideas, or questions.