Good Days, Sunshine: Events Planned for Sunshine Week

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By: Brian Orloff

Sunshine Week, a campaign for government openness and transparency, will be observed March 13-19, with many newspapers weighing in with articles and editorials. While the national campaign was mounted by the Associated Press and more than 50 news organizations, local media and organizations are sponsoring events in their communities.

The blogosphere will also participate with ‘Blogshine Sunday’ on March 13. Coordinated by FreeCulture.org, the event will allow bloggers to spotlight their own experiences. More information can be found at blogshine.org.

The National FOI Day Conference will be held March 16 at the Freedom Forum’s office in Virginia. Speakers include Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Cox Washington bureau chief Andy Alexander, and First Amendment attorney Lee Levine. The event is free and open to the public. To register, call (703) 284-2805.

A symposium titled “Confronting the Seduction of Secrecy: Toward Improved Government Access on the Record” will be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on March 17. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast and conclude at 10:45 a.m. This is the 5th Annual Curtis Hurley Symposium and is co-sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism. The event will be moderated by Geneva Overholser and will feature as panelists Bill Kovach, Tom Curley, Mike McCurry, Jack Shafer, and others.

Following is a list of some local Sunshine Week events.

CALIFORNIA: The Redding (Calif.) Searchlight will sponsor a free workshop on Thursday, March 17, that will look at the Ralph M. Brown Act, the California Public Records Act, and Proposition 59. The all-day workshop will be led by Terry Francke, general counsel for the organization Californians Aware. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 1450 Court St., in Redding, Calif., from noon to 5:30 p.m. Participants must RSVP with their name and e-mail address to emily@calaware.org.

MASSACHUSETTS: The American Library Association conference, to be held in Boston, will include discussions and panels throughout the week urging and instructing local librarians on ways to plan and program events in their communities about Sunshine Week-related activities.

MICHIGAN: The Times Herald of Port Huron, Mich. will sponsor a discussion on the Freedom of Information Act. The seminar will feature guests Dawn Phillip Hertz, a lawyer for the Michigan Press Association, and Thomas Quasarano from the state attorney general’s office. The event will occur at 7 p.m. on March 16 at St. Clair County Community College’s Fine Arts Theater, 323 Erie St. No reservations are required, but for more information, contact Shawn Starkey, the newspaper’s assistant managing editor, at (810) 989-0747.

? The Metro Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the League of Women Voters Oakland Area will co-sponsor a panel discussion called “Your Right to Access Government Information.” The event will be held on March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Southfield Public Library in Southfield, Mich. The address is 26300 Evergreen Rd.

NEW YORK: The Independent Press Association of New York will hold a panel discussion, “In the Dark: Shutting Out the Media,” on March 15 and a press briefing on March 16 in New York. Both will detail the results of a survey conducted about editors and reporters from the ethnic press and their experiences getting information from the government. The survey addresses discrimination and condescension. The panel will be held at 7 p.m. on March 15 at The Nation, 33 Irving Place. Admission is free. RSVP to Grace Cheung at (212) 279-1442. The press briefing, on March 16, is at noon in Room S370 at Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St.

OHIO: According to the Ohio Newspaper Association, a Portsmouth, Ohio couple will host a Sunshine Law Seminar on March 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Flohr Lecture Hall in the Clark Memorial Library at Shawnee State University. The free event will address how citizens can become involved in keeping government information publicly available and will be coordinated with the attorney general’s office.

VIRGINIA: Black College Wire, a news service for historically black colleges, will publicize Sunshine Week on college campuses and will also post sample editorials on its Web site during Sunshine Week to educate journalists in training and serve as models. The editorial content will launch at the beginning of Sunshine Week.

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