Sunshine Week highlights records, public files


As part of the 8th annual Sunshine Week, which was March 11-17 this year, free-press volunteers throughout the country – including here in Idaho – paid visits to their local broadcast stations to inspect their “public files.” Sunshine Week is “a time to stand up for the importance of open government and freedom of information,” reported Stevie Converse of  “Media Minutes,” a weekly review of news “related to the intersection of media and democracy.” She reported on the effort and interviewed volunteer Steve Walker, the retired state archivist of the state of Idaho and the secretary/treasurer of IDOG, Idahoans for Openness in Government.

Walker volunteered to inspect the public files at two local TV stations, KBOI2 and KTVB in Boise.  “Both stations were very pleasant and gave me ready access to the files,” Walker reported. “The thing that surprised me most was the amount of money coming into the stations from out-of-state (political) advertising. Political candidates such as Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich spent very large sums of money here in Idaho to get their message out, along with other Political Action Committees.”

Walker told Media Minutes, “It really kind of shocked me to see a lot of the things coming from out-of-state interests. It isn’t in-state money funding a lot of these things, it is out-of-state money.”

Converse reported, “Even a longtime open government advocate like Walker was unaware that broadcast stations maintain public files.” The information collected by Walker and other volunteers will be compiled to develop statistics on access to such public records at broadcast stations. Asked why he participated in the project, which took about an hour at each station, Walker said, “I’ve just been a long supporter for openness in government and transparency in government. I think that that’s the essence of democracy.”

You can listen to the full Media Minutes podcast here; select the March 16 edition, in which the Sunshine Week effort is the first item.


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