PRESS RELEASE — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunshine in Government Initiative changes name to News Media for Open Government,
Re-focuses on defending and advancing newsgathering and open government
January 18, 2017 — After more than a decade of work to advance government transparency, the Sunshine in Government Initiative (SGI), a coalition of nine leading journalism associations, is today announcing a new name and broadened focus on threats to newsgathering and open government. Going forward SGI will be known as News Media for Open Government.
Members of the coalition include: American Society of News Editors, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, The Associated Press, National Newspaper Association, News Media Alliance, Online News Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Society of Professional Journalists.
For nearly two-and-a-half centuries, the Constitution has stood to restrain government from using its power to limit a free press. The public, including through the news media, has a constitutional obligation to ask questions of and obtain answers from our government, investigate and report on what our government does, and receive and distribute accurate, reliable information without fear. Fortunately, supporting openness and newsgathering is a nonpartisan issue, and government transparency has bipartisan support in Congress.
This new coalition will work to defend the public’s right to a free press against efforts to put in place new laws, policies or practices that undermine the public’s ability to find out what officials are doing in their name.
The benefits of open government are at risk: Openness shines a light on bad judgment, negligence and outright corruption. One FOIA request forced a recall of thousands of armored vests heading to the front lines of war when evidence of their failure to stop bullets was made public. Unauthorized disclosures routinely help shed light on world events and the challenges the United States faces. Credible, reliable information is the lifeblood of our democracy.
“For over 10 years, SGI has fought hard against abuses of the secrecy label and to strengthen government transparency,” said Rick Blum, director of the coalition. “Today, our new name and focus better position us to defend newsgathering and promote open government so the public has reliable, accurate information.
Attacks on the public’s ability to know what our leaders are doing could emerge in many forms, from threats of leaks investigations to legal action aimed at compelling reporters to identify sources, including “whistleblowers,” proposals to create loopholes in FOIA, baseless lawsuits to stifle criticism, and direct harassment and intimidation against the news media, just to name a few.”
Rick Blum, Director
News Media for Open Government