Sunshine Week underscores importance of First Amendment

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters is celebrating the freedom of the press by supporting Sunshine Week, an annual national initiative to promote open government and push back against excessive secrecy.

“March 10-16, 2019, is Sunshine Week, and the Marquette County League of Women Voters is again celebrating,” David Allen of the LWV Marquette Unit said in a press release. “This year, we’re celebrating as a brand new ‘member-at-large’ unit after approval by the Michigan LWV.”

The LWV has supported Sunshine Week since its inception in 2005 as a way to highlight the importance of open government and freedom of information. “Sunshine,” or transparency and openness in government, refers to the access to public records and access to public meetings.

“It is a cornerstone of democracy, enlightening and empowering people to play an active role in their government at all levels. It helps keep public officials honest, makes government more efficient and provides a check against abuse of power,” the release states. “The LWV promotes this nonpartisan effort to enlighten and empower individuals to play an active role in their government at all levels and give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.”

The local LWV’s observer corps continues to monitor governmental bodies throughout Marquette County.

“It protects and strengthens every citizen’s right to know, and Sunshine Week is designed to highlight open government and freedom of information at the local, state and federal levels,” according to the release.

The press has always faced some level of scrutiny over time, but it has rarely ever faced the kind of onslaught we have seen as of late.

With Time Magazine naming four journalists and a newspaper as the magazine’s 2018 person of the year, it is a sign that Sunshine Week deserves to be celebrated more than ever this year.

Sunshine Week is marked nationally by panel discussions, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom of information resources. Many of the events are available through webinars at http://sunshineweek.org/events/.

Many of the events are available through webinars at http://sunshine week.org/events/.

Sunshine Week is sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.