Heads up: Local news media outlets may be testing your Open Records request responses in next month

The week of March 10 – 16 has been designated as “Sunshine Week” in Kentucky and in many other states, a time when media outlets check out how local public agencies deal with Open Records requests. A couple of years ago, one of the items sought by several Kentucky newspapers was a copy of the school district superintendent’s contract. In a previous year, a request dealt with copies of the minutes of the most recent meeting of the local school board.

Here is some information provided to newspapers recently by the Kentucky Press Association:

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. (See more about the new Sunshine Week website.)

With an inaugural grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has continued to support the effort, Sunshine Week was launched by the American Society of News Editors in March 2005. This non-partisan, non-profit initiative is celebrated in mid-March each year to coincide with James Madison’s birthday on March 16.

In 2011, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press joined ASNE as a national co-coordinator of Sunshine Week, enabling the organizations to join forces and resources to produce Toolkit materials for participants and keep the website and social media sites engaged.

Sunshine Week seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger.

Participants include news media, government officials at all levels, schools and universities, libraries and archives, individuals, non-profit and civic organizations, historians and anyone with an interest in open government.

Everyone can be a part of Sunshine Week. Our coalition of supporters is broad and deep. And individual participation can make all the difference, as evidenced by our Local Heroes awards.

The only requirement is that you do something to engage in a discussion about the importance of open government. It could be a large public forum or a classroom discussion, an article or series of articles about access to important information, or an editorial.

Visit Sunshineweek.org for more about what you can do to get involved.

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