Sunshine Week affirms freedom of speech

Newspapers provide a vital service in defending truth

For more than two centuries, the bedrock of our liberty and prosperity as Americans has been our right to know what is going on around us and to discuss it freely. Our nation’s founders believed that was so important that when they wrote the Bill or Rights, they made freedom of speech the First Amendment.

This week, we celebrate Sunshine Week, a time designated to think about that freedom and the importance of defending it.

We in the newspaper business believe freedom of the press is critical — and always under attack. Warnings these days about “fake news” merely bring out into the open an enmity that has existed among some in government since before our nation became independent.

Let us be clear about “fake news.” Even those who worry most publicly about it include just a handful of news outlets in their indictments.

Meanwhile, thousands of daily and weekly newspapers continue to serve as reliable, conscientious reporters of news. We make mistakes, of course — but we try very hard to be accurate and when we do err, we admit it. Our allegiance is to our readers, not to any political party, individual politician or special interest.

But at the local, state and national levels, many in government try in various ways, ranging from closed meetings to denial of access to public documents, to restrain your right to know. Many do so out of an honest belief they know what is best for the public.

We beg to differ. It is our right as Americans to know how we are being governed. That is why the period we use every year to focus attention on what we do is called Sunshine Week.

It is a reminder of what the nation’s founders — and the Americans they represented — understood: If the light we shine on government is ever permitted to dim, our freedom and prosperity as a nation are at risk of going dark, too.


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