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Project Sunshine
A Winning Strategy

Freedom of Information
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FOI Committee
This committee is the watchdog of press freedoms across the nation. It relies upon a network of volunteers in each state organized under Project Sunshine. These SPJ members are on the front lines for assaults to the First Amendment and when lawmakers attempt to restrict the public's access to documents and the government's business. The committee often is called upon to intervene in instances where the media is restricted.

Freedom of Information Committee Chair

Jonathan Anderson
Public issues investigative reporter
Marshfield News-Herald
Marshfield, Wisc.
Phone: 920-676-5399
Bio (click to expand) picture Jonathan Anderson is a public issues investigative reporter for the Marshfield News-Herald in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Before joining the News-Herald, in 2015, Jonathan was a reporter for a pair of newspapers in northern Wisconsin for nearly two years. He has held internships at the First Amendment Center, Wisconsin Law Journal, Wisconsin Public Radio and WISN-TV, and was also editor in chief of his college newspaper, the UWM Post.

Jonathan is an avid requester of public records, and his work in the FOI arena has also entailed advocacy and research. He has been the plaintiff in two lawsuits challenging improper government secrecy. He helped obtain a legal opinion from the Wisconsin attorney general that found University of Wisconsin System student government groups subject to the state’s open meetings law. His master’s thesis, “Resolving Public Records Disputes in Wisconsin: The Role of the Attorney General's Office,” investigated how the Wisconsin attorney general reviews and sometimes intervenes in access disputes. And he has volunteered for the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

Home > Freedom of Information > Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week Logo
Your right to know  •  March 15-21, 2015

Let the Sunshine In!
FOI Activities for Chapters, Classrooms and Newsrooms

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week website
Chapter FOI program ideas
Campus FOI resources
FOI activities for newsrooms
Writing about FOI
Quotable expert sources
Curriculum and classroom ideas for teachers
FOI resources
2014 resources: New studies and more
Sunshine Week Logos

SPJ's Black Hole Award: The Society of Professional Journalists launched the Black Hole Award in order to highlight the most heinous violations of the public’s right to know. By exposing examples of unnecessary and harmful secrecy, we hope to educate the public to their rights and hold government accountable. In the past, this award has been given annually. This year, the Freedom of Information committee adapted the rules so that the Black Hole Award is given on an as-needed basis. To view past winners, visit the Black Hole Award web page.

Reporter’s Guide to FERPA: Navigating the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act: Ever have a tough time getting public records from schools or universities? We feel your pain and are here to help you. The federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act has been twisted beyond recognition, keeping school lunch menus, graduation honors and athletic travel records secret. Take back your right to information with this guide, produced by the Society of Professional Journalists in conjunction with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

Fostering FOI

It’s our duty as journalists, and a key mission for SPJ, to shine light into the dark recesses of government secrecy. To that end, this SPJ Web site provides ideas for chapters, newsrooms and instructors to promote and further freedom of information in their communities. We’ve gleaned the best of chapter FOI programs from recent years as well as great Sunshine Week projects. We’ve gathered tips, facts and quotable expert sources for writing stories or editorials about FOI. We’ve provided classroom activities for instructors and ideas for newsroom brown-bags. These ideas can be applied during National Sunshine Week, which is March 15-21, or any time of the year. Let the sunshine in!

Sunshine Week

National Sunshine Week has been celebrated every March since 2005, thanks to the hard work of the American Society of News Editors. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civics groups, non-profits, schools and libraries. The activities are funded from a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to enlighten the public about their right to government information and strengthen their communities.

Click here to contact the Project Sunshine Chair in your state.

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