In 2005, the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) launched the first annual Sunshine Week. Beginning initially as a national public awareness campaign to spark conversations about government transparency and the freedom of information, Sunshine Week has grown into a robust series of events, webinars, and panels dedicated to the role information plays in promoting a functional democracy and an informed citizenry, and involves members of many different sectors, including journalists, science researchers, good government activists and other public interest advocates. Government Accountability Project actively participates in Sunshine Week, given our dedication to the power of information provided by whistleblowers to promote accountability. Last year, for example, Government Accountability Project collaborated with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) to launch The Whistleblower Project, an online resource about the essential role whistleblowers play in society and how journalists can work safely and effectively with employee truth-tellers to expose serious abuses of public trust.
Each year, Sunshine Week falls during the week of March 16 to celebrate the birthday of James Madison, so-called father of the U.S. Constitution and critical supporter of the Bill of Rights. This year, Sunshine Week runs from March 10-16. The 2019 event calendar is packed with webinars, trainings on how to craft a Right to Know Law request, and various other events hosted by reporters, editors, and civil society organizations.
This Sunshine Week also includes a Government Accountability Project-sponsored event spanning the intersection of scientific integrity, government transparency, and journalism. Along with the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sunlight Foundation, Government Accountability Project is proud to present Sunshine Week 2019: Science and Transparency in the Trump era. The event is anchored around a report, Protecting Science at Federal Agencies: How Congress Can Help, written by several organizations, which documents this administration’s assaults on scientific integrity and highlights two areas of particular concern relevant to Sunshine Week’s themes of transparency and access to information: reduced communications and the treatment of whistleblowers.
The event includes a series of discussions with journalists and presentations by civil society members that explore the challenges to science and transparency in the Trump era as well as resources to empower journalists, public interest organizations, employees, and policymakers to promote accountability, protect scientific integrity, and restore public trust in government. Highlighting the unique intersection of journalism, whistleblower rights, and scientific integrity, Government Accountability Project will be distributing copies of our whistleblower guides for journalists and public interest organizations along with the newly updated 2019 guide for federal employees and contractors.
For over 40 years, Government Accountability Project has fought for free speech rights, government transparency, and whistleblower protection. We’re proud to take part in Sunshine Week each year as an annual reminder to journalists, public interest organizations, and citizens of the importance of transparency and freedom of information to good government and a vibrant democracy — and the critical role whistleblowers play in serving those ends. We hope you will join us in this fight. RSVP today.