5 THINGS TO KNOW: What is Sunshine Week and Freedom of Information Day?

Mar. 13—Check out more on how Sunshine Week and Freedom of Information Day celebrate the importance of openness in government and access to public records.

1 What is Freedom of Information Day?

Freedom of Information Day is an annual event on or near March 16, the birthday of James Madison, who is widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution and the foremost advocate for openness in government, according to the American Library Association.

2 What is Sunshine Week?

Sunshine Week is a nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community, the News Leaders Association states. This year it's celebrated March 10-16.

3 How did Sunshine Week originate?

The American Society of News Editors — now News Leaders Association — launched Sunshine Week in 2005 and it has grown into an enduring initiative to promote open government.

4 What is the News Leaders Association?

The News Leaders Association aims to foster and develop the highest standards of trustworthy, truth-seeking journalism; to advocate for open, honest and transparent government; to fight for free speech and an independent press; and more. Its goal is for all citizens to be informed by accurate, truthful, independent reporting so they can demand the best from our democratic institutions.

5 How can I participate in Sunshine Week?

A civic group can organize local forums, sponsor essay contests or press elected officials to pass proclamations on the importance of open access. Educators can use Sunshine Week to teach students about government transparency. Elected officials can pass a resolution supporting openness or introduce legislation improving public access. A private citizen can write a letter to the editor or spread the word to friends through social media.

—Derrick James

Contact Adrian O'Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com or on twitter at @aohanlon3.