They say that sunlight is the best antiseptic. Shining a light in dark places where the public has a right to know is what makes Sunshine Week of such value to us all.

This week serves as a reminder of the value of the freedom of the press and why it should matter to all of us. Sunshine Week reminds us of the importance of the free press and protecting the public’s right to know, particularly in today’s world where transparency is far too less of a norm within the walls of our government at every level. 

Media professionals remain under constant scrutiny and our press is often under attack by both the public and from those in charge of leading our government. While there are often walls set up to circumvent transparency and open government, we must continue fighting the good fight because the First Amendment protects our right to know what goes on and how we are governed. That should be held in high regard by all of us, not just those working in media. 

Our system of government was established with checks and balances for a reason, and media, as the Fourth Estate, plays an important role in that system. It is our responsibility to call out those who overstep their bounds and hide behind misinformation, half-truths and cover-ups. Otherwise, we would be like those other nations where the voice of the people is silenced, government is far from transparent, and decisions are masked from the general public.

The First Amendment protects our right to know whether there are burglaries in our neighborhoods or if a convicted sex offender lives down the street. It protects our right to know how our tax dollars are spent and gives us access to information on what type of business is going up next door to our property and our schools. It gives us access to information on the back door deals that some don’t want us to know about, and others choose to ignore.

Sunshine Week is a reminder that transparency and open government isn’t just about media — it’s about all of us. We all must champion our right to know.

Even when we are not fond of the press or when we disagree on coverage, we must uphold press freedoms and the rights our First Amendment grants as part of our democracy. We warrant a critical eye as media, and so deserved. If we wish to examine other entities with scrutiny then we must accept that the tables can be turned on us as well. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should be shut out simply because the press or information we provide is less than flattering. Yes, we should be champions of our community and share good news about local happenings. But we must also be watchdogs — we can and should be both.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we all navigate a new era of separating fact from fiction, precaution and panic, Sunshine Week reminds us that journalism, the real work of the free press, is a vital part of our democracy, our public and our way of life. 

It still has value. 

React to this story:


Trending Video