NEFAC, Media and FOI Advocates to Celebrate Sunshine Week, Open Government

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |

The New England First Amendment Coalition will join open government advocates throughout the country to celebrate this 12th annual Sunshine Week.

Sunshine Week, from March 12-18, is a national campaign to promote dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

NEFAC will sponsor events this week and publish daily blog posts to address transparency issues in each New England state. The coalition will also temporarily change its familiar blue logo to a sun in honor of the public awareness campaign.

NEFAC and the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications will host a panel discussion titled “The Right to Know in New Hampshire in Theory and Practice” at 7 p.m. on March 13 at the Loeb School, 749 E. Industrial Park Drive in Manchester, N.H.

On March 16, NEFAC, and The Telegraph of Nashua will present an open forum on the New Hampshire Right to Know Law at 6 p.m. at the Hunt Memorial Building, 6 Main Street in Nashua, N.H.

As it does every Sunshine Week, NEFAC will post FOI reports from throughout the region. These reports will be written by some of the area’s leading advocates for open government and will collectively provide a sense of the progress being made — and the challenges that still exist — throughout all six New England states. Those reports will be written by:

Let the Sun Shine In
Jim Condos | State of Vermont

Linda Levin | Access/RI
David Saad | Right to Know New Hampshire
Lia Ernst | NEFAC, ACLU of Vermont
Jim Campbell | Maine Freedom of Information Coalition
Daniel Klau | NEFAC, Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Michael Morisy | MuckRock

“Confronted by a presidential administration that regularly attacks the news media and labels the Fourth Estate an ‘enemy of the American people,’ Sunshine Week has special significance this year,” said Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director.

He noted that the upcoming Sunshine Week campaign follows NEFAC’s recent New England First Amendment Awards luncheon that honored those fighting for press freedoms and government transparency. Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan, recipient of this year’s Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award, said during the luncheon that:

“Journalism’s role is more important than ever as we try to make sense of what’s happening for our viewers and readers. I’m more convinced every day that most Americans know very well that just as the First Amendment protects us, we must return the framers great favor and protect it. We do that by insisting on the truth, seeking it relentlessly and standing up for those who provide it.”

“The truth is often obtained through public documents and open meetings,” Silverman said. “These are essential portals into the work of our government and tools through which we can keep our leaders accountable. As Justice Brandeis famously said, sunlight is the best of disinfectants.”

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Donations can be made here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC for this year include The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.