Last evening, over a hundred supporters of open government joined Sunlight Foundation, the National Press Club, ProPublica, United Republic, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Openthegovernment.org, Online News Association, ASNE, POPVOX, ProPublica, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, and Electronic Privacy Information Center to celebrate Sunshine Week. The event held at the National Press Club, was an opportunity to meet those working on and committed to transparency.
Although the event was just an informal gathering for advocates and journalists, the guest of honor was clearly the spirit of James Madison whose birthday coincides with Sunshine Week. An early advocate of transparency, he famously wrote:
“A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
Tomorrow is James Madison’s actual birthday and also National Freedom of Information (FOI) Day. The First Amendment Center will be holding a conference at the Newseum to discuss some of the current issues surrounding freedom of information and open records. Can’t make it to the conference? You can follow the conversation live on webcast.
Here in DC? You can visit the National Archives and view the original Freedom of Information Act. Happy Sunshine Week- and hope the weather is actually cooperation in your part of the country!