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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Big News for Sunshine Week 2007


Leading journalists join nationwide effort against unwarranted secrecy; Will participate in Sunshine Week programs March 11-17, 2007

For immediate release: Jan. 17, 2007

WASHINGTON ─ Journalists Ben Bradlee, Tom Brokaw and Judy Woodruff are the honorary chairs of Sunshine Week 2007, March 11-17.

Bradlee is former executive editor and now vice president at large of The Washington Post. Brokaw is former anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News and now a contributing reporter and producer for NBC News documentaries. Woodruff is special correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and anchor of Conversations with Judy Woodruff on Bloomberg Television.

Sunshine Week http://www.sunshineweek.org is an open government initiative spearheaded by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Entering its third year, the program encourages newspapers, broadcasters, online content producers, schools, libraries, civic groups and others to engage in discussions about the importance of protecting public access to government information and meetings. It is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

As honorary chairs, Bradlee, Brokaw and Woodruff will serve as spokespeople for Sunshine Week 2007 and support the initiative’s efforts to empower and educate people about their right to know what government is doing, and why.

"Open government laws are absolutely essential to getting the information officials might prefer to see locked away in a safe," Bradlee said. "People may not think about Sunshine Laws every day, but when you need them, you need them. When you're trying to get information, you know that with these laws you're on the side of right. Sunshine Week is a good opportunity for journalists, the public and government officials to reinforce the importance of these laws and the foundations they're built on."

"If we present ourselves to the world as patrons of democracy, then we must be vigilant stewards at home of the oxygen that it requires – access to what our government is doing and the right to speak freely about it," Brokaw said. "Those who comprised what I call the Greatest Generation fought valiantly to preserve and protect those freedoms. It is up to us to ensure during Sunshine Week and all year that their sacrifices were not for naught."

"Government decision making in the United States should be as transparent as possible. Ours is a democratic system – of, by and for the people – and we ought to know what's going on," Woodruff said. "While I don't think you can create a blanket policy covering every situation, the default position should be for disclosure, for openness. We're a stronger society because information – good and bad – flows freely. Sunshine Week is a time to celebrate and protect that strength."

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