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Project Sunshine
A Winning Strategy

Freedom of Information
Covering Prisons
Project Sunshine: Find FOI Help
Accessing Government Records
Shield Law Campaign
FOI Audit Tookit | PDF
Anti-SLAPP: Protect Free Speech
Official Secrets Act bill
FOI Groups
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FOI Committee Roster

FOI FYI: SPJ’s FOI Committee Blog
Show why FOI matters
FOI Win in Georgia: Defamation Law Repealed
The flow of information: Reporting on water in the west

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 > Project Sunshine

Freedom of Information
Project Sunshine

Your Right to Know
Find FOI in your state

Get in touch with the Sunshine chair or chairs in your state and find FOI Centers, quotable sources, resources and more by using the menu below.

Project Sunshine is most important and visible to the people who need it the most — working reporters and editors.

Project Sunshine focuses the attention of SPJ chapters and leaders on Freedom of Information problems, issues, needs and solutions at the local, chapter and state level. State sunshine chairs also are leaders in national access debates.

By taking the lead, initiating organization and collaboration at the chapter and-state level, areas of great and visible need are addressed. It's also the area in which Project Sunshine has the greatest impact.

Goals of Project Sunshine

—Organize state and local FOI efforts
— Turn that organization into a local, state and national network that can be mobilized for any access battle
— Increase membership, renew the commitment to FOI, promote SPJ
— Raise money needed to support those efforts

State Sunshine Chair Job Description

—Be the point person for SPJ in each state.
—Be a spokesperson for local/state FOI issues and problems. Make your presence known to assigning editors, editorial writers and government reporters to be quoted.
— Build a team. Organize and chair SPJ FOI efforts in your state. Convene FOI committee chairs, officers of chapters and other interested parties such as press association and FOI coalitions to define a mission.
— Represent SPJ in your state and/or take charge of an ad hoc coalition.
— Encourage, delegate or organize provocative chapter programs that focus attention on FOI issues.
— Encourage and/or assign coverage of FOI matters, including your work, in chapter newsletters, press or broadcast association bulletins.
— Track or supervise the tracking of SPJ efforts, both gains and losses.
— Try to identify sources of funds or grants to sustain FOI efforts. Look for allies to help finance your needs and don't be afraid to ask chapter leaders for fund-raising support.
— Funnel your state information to the national FOI committee chair as well as Quill editors so that wins and losses across the country are well documented.

History of Project Sunshine

Project Sunshine is a program of the Society of Professional Journalists initiated to focus attention and energy on problems of steadily-eroding access to national, state and local government.

Since it began in 1990, Sunshine's principal goal has been to identify threats to public access and government and to organize efforts to resist those threats. In states where Freedom of Information coalitions exist, Sunshine's goal is to organize and mobilize SPJ resources to assist those efforts.

Using grants from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation and The Freedom Forum, Project Sunshine produced and made available model Sunshine laws, covering open meetings and public records including electronically-stored information. SPJ also has sponsored national Sunshine conferences at which state Sunshine chairs were briefed on impending threats.

Project Sunshine was organized on a state-by-state model because access problems often are unique to specific states. Its 50 volunteer chairs, therefore, are free to set an agenda to specific state needs.

Sunshine chairs should be positioned to learn about problems and alert other SPJ leaders or allied groups.

At its core, Sunshine is a team-building program aimed at establishing a state network of FOI resources to focus attention on the access problem of the hour. That network often is called into service to work on other immediate problems, including access problems common to campus press.

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

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