Lobby Launched to Combat Secrecy


A coalition of major broadcast- and print-journalism associations has launched the Sunshine in Government Initiative.

The coalition wants to educate the public on First Amendment issues and lobby for legislation, including the Open Government Act of 2005, which would speed the release of documents in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. A hearing on that bill is scheduled for March 15.

The new initiative is tied to the launch of the first Sunshine Week March 13. Sunshine Week is a series of news stories, editorials, PSAs, editorial cartoons, speeches, seminars and other initiatives by broadcast and print journalists to educate the public about efforts to combat government secrecy.

Coalition members include AP, the Radio-Television News Directors Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Newspaper Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Newspaper Association of America.

"National security depends on public trust," AP President Tom Curley said. "The trend toward secrecy is the greatest threat to democracy. We must be vigilant at explaining and fighting for accountable government in every jurisdiction."

Curley has been pushing for an industry lobbying effort at least since last May.

In a speech in Riverside Calif., in May 2004, Curley invoked an Orwellian image of an armed and dangerous government in proposing a media advocacy center that would push back against the government's tightening control over records and FOIA requests.

"The government's power is overwhelming," Curley told his audience then. "It's agents are armed and authorized to use force if they have to."