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Sunshine Week 2022 is coming to a new challenge in reporting

Every March, media outlets across the country emphasize the importance of journalists’ work to ensure government transparency and openness among elected officials.

Sunshine Week, As is known for compliance, it’s time to coincide with James Madison’s March 16th birthday, the fourth president of the United States and the framer of the Bill of Rights and the Guarantee of Freedom of the Press. Celebrating Sunshine Week on his birthday means celebrating Madison’s solid protection of the Free Press as a government watchdog.

This year’s compliance is two years after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in our area, changing lives as we knew and testing open government responsibilities in new ways. Matches with.

The sudden spread of the global pandemic has broke new ground in public health reporting and created the need for accurate, consistent and timely information from credible sources. Journalists needed to report changes to the message from public health authorities — mask or no mask? — And navigate the uncertainties and discoveries surrounding both the disease and how to prevent its spread.

The virus forced the closure of local governments and schools unprecedented in our lives, causing changes in the sea in the work of local governments. City halls, schools, government meetings and courts have been closed, meetings are effectively held, and court sessions are now videotaped.

New questions about whether streamed meetings need to be kept as public records, whether all public comments submitted need to be read aloud, and how to ensure public participation in areas where citizens do not have internet access. had.

Local news journalists played an important role in deepening understanding throughout this unusual era, asking and reporting on the actions of local governments such as states, counties, boards of education, autonomous regions and towns. The last two years have also brought about front-line issues of racial justice and election reform, requiring both police and civil servants to openly explain their decisions.

Open records and open meeting methods are more important than ever.

The Pennsylvania News Media Association, to which this newspaper is a member, State sponsor A report on Sunshine Week to draw attention to Pennsylvania’s sunshine and open record laws. Together, these laws guarantee the public’s right to access government information through public meetings and public records, ensure that democratic processes function properly, and inform when doors close. Allow the public to witness the decision so that it will be.

Our role is to challenge executive sessions, for example, when public appointments are made without public interviews, or when executive session exceptions are applied improperly.

Shutdown has also created a new impetus for public schools. Dissatisfied with school closures and masking policies, parents used the Internet to get more information and began to find others with common complaints and fears. Rumors of using the Internet have encouraged distrust of public school staff and made parents bold.

The school board meeting, whether virtual or direct, became a conflict between frustrated parents and school officials as they clashed over what constitutes child safety.

Local journalists reported comments in the tension of the meeting and sought to navigate the subtle line between giving a platform to offensive speech and reflecting the community. Microphones and videos could be cut off if the meeting got too hot and confused the very important public records that needed to be in the transparent government.

Enforcing the Sunshine Act has never been easier in this environment, but Open Record executives and reporters have worked hard to navigate unusual landscapes.

Breaking out of the two-year limit also shows an opportunity. The practice of streaming conferences allows local journalists, whose numbers have declined in recent years, to be in two locations at once. Of course, the ability of officials to manipulate what reporters can see is a real danger, local media must be vigilant, and legislation to ensure sunlight must be enforced.

There are no open government rules in place to facilitate the work of journalists. Rather, the job of journalists exists to give citizens insight into what civil servants do outside the public arena. Open government is a trusted, two-way path. This week reminds us to walk out of the secret darkness and make the sun shine.

Sunshine Week 2022 is coming to a new challenge in reporting

Source link Sunshine Week 2022 is coming to a new challenge in reporting

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