The Press Club of Long Island is celebrating Sunshine Week. We’ve reached out to influential people who have an intimate knowledge of Freedom of Information and asked them to share their brief thoughts on the importance of open government.
Keep an eye out over the next few days as we release quotes from various people in journalism and communications.
David Cullier is immediate Past President of the Society of Professional Journalists, Director and Associate Professor School of Journalism University of Arizona and is the SPJ Freedom of Information Committee Chair.
Cullier on FOI and Open Government: “Government agencies are becoming more secretive and controlling of information than ever before, and if something doesn’t change we will lose our democracy. U.S. public record laws are weak compared to other nations, and implementation is spotty. What is needed are strong penalties for government officials who break the law. Without penalties and someone to enforce the laws, many agencies won’t follow them. Yet, you and I get in trouble if we break state or federal law. It’s like in Pirates of the Caribbean, when Captain Jack Sparrow asks another pirate, “I thought you were supposed to keep to the code?” and the other pirate replies, “We figured they were more actual ‘guidelines’.” These are laws, and should be treated as such. Not as guidelines.”
Read other PCLI Sunshine Week capsules:
About Sunshine Week: National Sunshine Week has been celebrated every March since 2005, thanks to the hard work of the American Society of News Editors. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civics groups, non-profits, schools and libraries. The activities are funded from a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to enlighten the public about their right to government information and strengthen their communities.