Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Sunshine Campaign' Aims to Quiz Candidates on Open Gov't Issues

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Sunshine Campaign' Aims to Quiz Candidates on Open Gov't Issues

Article excerpt

The American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and other groups involved in the annual Sunshine Week on Thursday launched an election year Sunshine Campaign to pressure candidates for offices from city council to the presidency to discuss their stands on open government issues.

"The Sunshine Campaign is designed to spur campaign conversation -- and commitment -- to open government during the presidential race and continuing on through to city council contests," the organization said. "Journalists, and anyone else with the opportunity, are encouraged to ask every candidate for public office to explain his or her positions on open government and Freedom of Information (FOI) issues."

Sunshine Week will use responses to develop a database of statements, positions, votes, and views on a variety of open government issues.

Sunshine Week also has sent a questionnaire on a variety of open government issues has been sent to the campaign offices of the 16 leading Democratic and Republican candidates. They have been asked to respond by mid-December. Answers will be posted on the Sunshine Week Web site as they are received.

Sunshine Campaign promotional materials include "spokesmammals" Ronnie and Donnie, representing a Republican elephant and Democratic donkey. Other items include print and Web ads, t-shirts and other clothing, buttons, campaign yard signs and stickers.

Resources such as suggested questions and links to additional material are on the Sunshine Week Web site, www.sunshineweek.org.

Sunshine Week began as an initiative of Florida newspapers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to remind citizens of the importance of FOI laws in their lives. ASNE took the effort national, and it will be marked with specific events and content on Sunshine Week 2008, March 16-22.

Sunshine Week said it is working with The Creative Coalition, a group of actors and writers, to promote open government discussion during the presidential campaign.

"Open government is the very essence of our democracy. We're proud to partner with Sunshine Week to ensure that every citizen has access to information and the ability to express their First Amendment right to free speech," Robin Bronk, The Creative Coalition's executive director, said in a statement.

Sunshine Week also is working with Project Vote Smart, which has included questions specific to open government on its Political Courage Test, a non-partisan survey sent to every candidate regarding his or her position on a variety of issues. …

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