The effort is more important than ever. A recent Scripps poll had some disturbing numbers about how Americans feel about openness in government.
Public cynicism that the federal government operates in an atmosphere of secrecy is as strong as ever, despite President Barack Obama's promises to make government information more easily available to the public.
A new survey of 1,001 adult residents of the United States found that 70 percent believe that the federal government is either “very secretive” or “somewhat secretive.” The largest portion of respondents, 44 percent, said it is “very secretive.”
That matches the worst rating the federal government received during the final year of George W. Bush's presidency.
Sunshine Week was initially launched by the American Society of News Editors, but it has grown into a larger movement.
Although spearheaded by ASNE, participation has quickly grown beyond newspapers and journalism groups to include students, teachers, private citizens, librarians, civic leaders, public officials, bloggers and a variety of nonprofit groups and associations. Sunshine Week also has expanded outside the boundaries of the United States to include participation in a variety of other countries.
Sunshine Week is funded primarily by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami. Sunshine Week also has received major organizational support from the National Freedom of Information Coalition, the Society of Professional Journalists and others who have partnered to ensure that it thrives and grows.
Texas Watchdog is participating too. This week we are highlighting local Texas heroes who have fought for greater government transparency. Please come back all week to see different Texans profiled for their work in making government more open to us all. Some are government officials. Others are regular folks. All have succeeded at making government a little more open.
Our first profile is of Horseshoe Bay activist Peyton Wolcott, who has spearheaded a national movement to post school check registers online. That profile coming soon to Texas Watchdog.