Let the Sunshine In!
FOI Activities for Chapters, Classrooms and Newsrooms
SPJ's Black Hole Award: The Society of Professional Journalists launched the Black Hole Award this year 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. The Freedom of Information Committee accepted nominations for 2010 violations, coordinated by committee member Mike Farrell of the University of Kentucky, and selected the winner along with five runners-up. This award will be handed out annually during national Sunshine Week. Click here to read about this year's winner and the five runners-up.
Reporters 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.
Its 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. Weve gleaned the best of chapter FOI programs from recent years as well as great Sunshine Week projects. Weve gathered tips, facts and quotable expert sources for writing stories or editorials about FOI. Weve provided classroom activities for instructors and ideas for newsroom brown-bags. These ideas can be applied during National Sunshine Week, which is March 10-16, or any time of the year. Let the sunshine in!
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.