Let the Sunshine In! (or not)

Call for Sunshine/Black Hole Award nominations

Are you dealing with a “black hole” that swallows up public records or shuts the public out of meetings?

Or is there someone you think has been a ray of “sunshine” at keeping government open?

The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists would like to know about them. SPJ annually gives out Sunshine Awards for those individuals and agencies that work to keep government open and fully transparent. It also gives Black Hole awards to those entities that hinder the public’s right to attend meetings of public bodies or review records that should be in the public domain. SPJ issues the awards around March 16, which is the National Freedom of Information Day and the birthday of James Madison, the author of the First Amendment and father of the U.S. Constitution.

But SPJ needs your help. We can’t possibly track down every case on our own. So we’ve set up an e-mail where people may send nominations for Sunshine or Black Hole awards. The email is utahfoi@gmail.com. Our deadline is Feb. 26.

When you nominate someone, please be as specific as possible as to why you think they deserve either a Sunshine or Black Hole award. Cite dates and specific incidents, and whatever documentation you may have.

“The Sunshine Awards are a way to recognize efforts by elected officials and others to keep the governing process open and transparent to all citizens,” Linda Petersen, Utah Headliners Freedom of Information Chair said. “Conversely, the Black Hole Awards put those who violate this sacred charge on notice that their actions are being noticed and will be remembered.”

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