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sunshine_weekWe’re celebrating 2014 Sunshine Week March 16 through 22.

Centered around James Madison’s birthday, Sunshine Week is a national initiative highlighting open government issues and our Freedom of Information rights.

Sponsors are the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Bloomberg, The Gridiron Club and Foundation, American Society of News Editors, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Sunshine-Week-logo-300x176It’s an annual event.  But it is especially fitting this year, in 2014 — as we learn more every day about Orwell 1984-style NSA and IRS spying by our government on American citizens — to remember why our Constitution promises a free press along with freedom of speech and assembly.

Jonathan Turley, a respected political commentator and liberal-leaning law professor at George Washington University, says

In 1964 (New York Times v Sullivan), the United States was viewed as the world’s leading protector of press freedom.

Now, America is viewed as a growing menace to press freedom.

In this year’s World Press Freedom Index by the respected Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. ranked 46th in the world, behind Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Czech Republic, Ghana, South Africa and El Salvador, among others.

Arkansas’s Freedom of Information Act dates back to 1967, and now participating organizations maintain an online handbook with all the pertinent information you need to know.

 Do YOU know your rights under FOIA?  As The Arkansas Project correctly asked, “What is the point of having rights if you do not know what they are and therefore cannot exercise them?”

We must remember that it is up to us, We the People, to protect and defend these rights we have to transparency and to know what our government is doing and how much it is spending.

If we do not exercise these rights frequently and strenuously, we will most certainly lose them entirely.

Get more information on Sunshine Week.