The American public has an inalienable right to exercise beliefs, speak freely, access a free press, assemble and petition the government. Working under the name the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a broad coalition of news media and journalism organizations has been working to ensure laws, policies and practices preserve and protect freedom of the press, open government and the free flow of information in our democratic society.
Through accurate newsgathering and reporting, the news media help the public understand what the government is doing in its name. The coalition upholds and strengthens the relationship between the government and a free press that is rooted in the First Amendment. We work to protect and strengthen common strategies for newsgathering and responsibly handling sensitive stories, including access to experts and decision makers, protected sources, and open-government laws such as the Freedom of Information Act. We help ensure the public has access to a free, vibrant and open press and we are committed to fostering laws, policies and practices that keep government open, honest and accountable.
Revised January 4, 2016
1. An informed public is the cornerstone of our democracy. Open government instills public trust. Policies preserving access to information are essential to our national well-being.
2. Americans depend on news media to inform them about governmental activities and to exercise the right of access to appropriate government information on the public’s behalf.
3. In a democracy, government must function under a presumption of openness, balancing this as necessary with legitimate national security needs and the confidentiality concerns of individual privacy.
4. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) should be preserved and strengthened. Over-classification, unconstrained non-disclosure agreements, and indiscriminate use of “sensitive” designations to withhold information ill serve our nation’s security interests and thwart the public’s right to know.