Ben Bradlee To Chair ‘Sunshine Week’

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By: E&P Staff

Former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee was named honorary chair of the 2007 Sunshine Week open government initiative Wednesday. He will serve along with former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw and television journalist Judy Woodruff.

Sunshine Week, observed March 11-17 this year, is an initiative organized by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) to call attention to the importance of protecting public access to government information and meetings. This will be the third year for the nationwide campaign, which was inspired by the successful ?Sunshine Sunday? effort of Florida newspapers to safeguard the state?s Sunshine in Government laws from post-9/11 attempts to increase government secrecy.

During the week, newspapers and broadcasters, plus Web producers, schools, libraries, civic groups and others are encouraged ?to engage in discussions about the importance of protecting public access to government information and meetings,? ASNE said. The initiative is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Open government laws are absolutely essential to getting the information officials might prefer to see locked away in a safe,” Bradlee said in a statement. “People may not think about Sunshine Laws every day, but when you need them, you need them. When you’re trying to get information, you know that with these laws you’re on the side of right. Sunshine Week is a good opportunity for journalists, the public and government officials to reinforce the importance of these laws and the foundations they’re built on.”

Brokaw said Americans owe to the so-called ?Greatest Generation? that fought World War II to preserve liberty: “Those who comprised what I call the Greatest Generation fought valiantly to preserve and protect those freedoms. It is up to us to ensure during Sunshine Week and all year that their sacrifices were not for naught.”

Woodruff said the United States is a ?stronger society because information — good and bad — flows freely. Sunshine Week is a time to celebrate and protect that strength.”

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