“Sunshine Week” Recognizes Every Citizen’s “Right to Know”

“Openness and transparency are fundamental to American Democracy,” leading PA Attorney says.

Attorney Craig J. Staudenmaier, Esq., commented today that national Sunshine Week — March 16-22 — is a celebration of American citizens’ right to know what their government is doing, and why. “Sunshine Week is a national public awareness week which recognizes, informs, and empowers citizens to take an active role in their government at all levels, and to recognize that their access to public information makes their lives better and their communities stronger.” Staudenmaier said.

Sunshine Week is a nonpartisan, good-government effort led by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association with a constituency that goes beyond print, broadcast and online news media to include students of all ages; federal, state and local lawmakers, both conservative and liberal; think tanks and nonprofits; civic groups; and librarians.

“During Sunshine Week, participating daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, online sites, and radio and television broadcasters will run editorials, op-ed columns, editorial cartoons, public forums and news and feature stories to raise aware of Pennsylvania’s Right To Know Law and stimulate public discussion about why open government is important to everyone, not only to journalists.” Staudenmaier added.

Recipient of the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Award for Excellence from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association (PNA) for his work in preserving open records laws and the Right to Know Law, Mr. Staudenmaier is considered the leading legal authority on the issue in Pennsylvania.

A series of broadcast and print public service ads featuring 13 high-profile actors speaking about the importance of open and accountable government has been produced for Sunshine Week and will be used throughout the election season in conjunction with the Sunshine Campaign. The Society of Professional Journalists has also produced special Sunshine Week Web pages offering ideas and resources for use in the classroom or by newsrooms. The guide offers ideas for coverage, a list of experts and sources, links to relevant reports and studies, curriculum ideas and classroom guides, and other tools to help anyone celebrate Sunshine Week.

“All of this information is available at: Sunshine Week: Your Right To Know,” Staudenmaier added. “Or by visiting The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association web page.

Mr. Staudenmaier, managing partner of Nauman, Smith, Shissler & Hall, LLP, has played an instrumental role in shaping issues of Right To Know law in Pennsylvania through various representations of media interests, as well as widely recognized successes in litigation before the Supreme Court in landmark cases pertaining to media access and public right to know.

He is available this week for interviews or comments on this important subject.

The Pennsylvania Newspaper Association traces its roots to 1925 when it was granted a charter by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association is the official trade organization for all Pennsylvania newspapers and provides representation in the legislature and for educational services, and acts as an information clearinghouse. Read more information about Sunshine Week here.

Posted on March 17, 2008 in News