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SPJ encourages journalists to include Sunshine Week in coverage March 13-19



Feb. 25, 2016

Jonathan Anderson, SPJ FOI Committee Chair, 920-676-5399, andjonc@gmail.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS -- Sunshine Week is the one week a year when journalists can show their readers/viewers/listeners the significance of open government and freedom of information and celebrate these values. Open government and FOI are under attack across the country, and SPJ urges all journalists to join the effort to demonstrate their importance in a democratic nation.

WHO: Professional and student journalists working in any medium; bloggers; civic and non-profit organizations; schools; libraries; and other supporters of open government.

WHAT: Sunshine Week

WHEN: March 13-19, 2016

WHERE: Nationwide

WHY: As we prepare to celebrate the 11th year of Sunshine Week, we encourage all journalists and media outlets to consider including relevant, important open government and freedom of information topics in your news coverage during Sunshine Week. Promote a dialogue with your readers, viewers and listeners about the importance of a transparent government and freedom of information as a cornerstone of our democracy.

HOW: Here are just a few ways you can incorporate Sunshine Week into your news coverage March 13-19. Feel free to build upon these ideas, get creative and have fun with it!

• Conduct an FOI audit of your own community and report your findings. Start now gathering information and sending requests to different agencies to see how they respond. This is an easy way to test your local government’s compliance with open records laws. For step-by-step tips on how to conduct an FOI audit, check out this guide from SPJ.
• Follow and share stories and information on social media using #sunshineweek #shareyoursunshine #FixFOIAby50 and follow @SPJ_Tweets @sunshineweek @NewsEditors @RCFP and @sunfoundation
• Tweet and Instagram your photos of redacted documents you have received to help shed light on secrecy. Use the above hashtags and tag @SPJ_Tweets so we can retweet and share them. This will help illustrate for the general public the extent and number of instances in which journalists receive redacted documents.
• Write opinion columns or run editorial cartoons that illustrate why your readers/viewers/listeners should care about open government and freedom of information. (SPJ will make opinion pieces and blog posts available here for your use all week.)
• In covering federal political candidates, use this resource to ask open government-related questions: http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/open-government-questions-for-federal-candidates/
• Get ideas from the Sunshine Week Toolkit and the Sunshine Week Calendar of Events

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.


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