Monday, March 21, 2005

Sunshine Week: Your Right To Know

The "Sunshine Week" program, offered by the Society of Professional Journalists, was a nationwide effort to create a dialogue about the public's right of access to government information. One of the program's motto is "An open government is important to everyone, not just journalists."

This line can encourage everyone because it's granting the right of every citizen, but not everybody knows this. I must confess I had my first contact with public records last Fall 2004 in my Database/Public Records class. It was a long process to understand the complexity of requesting public records because I needed to know some Florida statutes. I asked for the Town of Palm Beach payroll, but it was not an easy process to get them.

They were saying that police officers and firefighter's names, annual wage and other information cannot be displayed. Of course, they were lying. Sometimes government do not want to cooperate with neither journalists nor public, probably because of bureaucracy.

According to the Sunshine Week, "It was a great success—even more than we had hoped. Daily and weekly newspapers, broadcasters, bloggers and other media, as well as federal and state legislators, librarians, civic groups and others across the country joined in the effort to remind the public that government belongs to, and must be accountable to, the people."

We know our rights, but we must fight for it. This has been a long process, and as the Sunshine Week motto says, " the quest for open goverment must continue."

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