A week of instruction and inspiration on getting all the facts

It’s Sunshine Week!

This annual celebration of access to public information offers seven days packed with panel discussions, workshops and special reporting efforts, organized by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, which also advocates for transparency and access to information, is joining this year’s celebration with a weeklong series of blog posts to bolster your efforts to get the facts.

The first stop is right here – the wealth of tips and guidance available on AHCJ’s website. The Right to Know Committee has its own page, and it is rich with advice on accessing public records, coping with HIPAA compliance, finding data and understanding medical costs.

The committee of tireless volunteers is AHCJ’s primary advocacy arm, fighting for access to information of public interest. Just this year, we have called out a federal agency for threatening to ban a reporter from press calls, pushed for more frequent press briefings with health officials, and highlighted how delayed access to data and private meetings with select reporters has hindered coverage of big issues.

We need to keep hearing from you about the obstacles you face. “We provide a voice for health journalists as they beat on the doors of the powerful,” said Right to Know Chair Felice J. Freyer. “We’ve seen over the years that our voice can be heard, and AHCJ is increasingly seen as a force to be reckoned with.”

But we know we are only one voice among many.

In honor of Sunshine Week, we have for the first time invited other organizations to describe how they can help reporters in their pursuit of the facts. These guest posts will appear over the next four days:

  • Tuesday: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which provides pro bono legal support and resources to advance First Amendment freedoms, will describe its success representing local reporters and outline its online resources.
  • Wednesday: Public Citizen, an advocacy organization that promotes system-wide changes in health care policy and drug safety, will break news with the release of new report from its Health Research Group on fines paid by Big Pharma for illegal activities.
  • Thursday: The Sunlight Foundation, a national nonprofit organization working to make government and politics more transparent, will describe a project tracking changes to government websites, including those of federal health agencies.
  • Friday: MuckRock, a nonprofit that assists those trying to request public information, will provide tips and tricks for reporters seeking government documents.

By week’s end, we’re confident AHCJ members will be well-equipped – and energized – to leave no stone unturned in their quest for answers.

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