Freedom of Information
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.