Newspapers let the sun shine light on government

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By Jeff Moreland

There’s a lot of information out there, and you have the right to almost all of it, especially when it comes to your government.

This week is Sunshine Week in the news industry, and it’s a time to recognize the importance of letting light shine on open government and freedom of information, thus the name.

We are often asked why we publish some things in our paper, like property transfers, food service inspections and other items of public record. The answer is an easy one; you have the right to know.

We don’t publish this information to be nosy, or to cause problems for those whose names and information appear on our pages, we do it to inform those who may need to know. If you were planning to visit a restaurant, and then you saw information in the newspaper that indicated the restaurant had issues with cleanliness or sanitation, you’d want to know that. Sure, you could go look it up yourself as some have suggested to us and other newspapers, but do you really have the time? Probably not. It’s our job to not just give you news about the good, but also the potentially bad things that exist in the community. If it’s information you could use, we want to do our best to provide it to you.

Property transfers and court news are especially a touchy issue with some readers, and we are often asked if we can “keep something out of the paper,” such as a person who is arrested for driving under the influence, or someone who gets a speeding ticket. We could do that, but it wouldn’t be fair, and that’s our goal. We strive to be as balanced as possible, and publishing some information and omitting other would definitely not be balanced.

But why is that anybody’s business? Because, again, it’s information you could use. If a person has been charged with a crime, such as a crime against a child, you would want to be aware that the person who might be your neighbor, was accused or even convicted, of that crime.

The same holds true for a person accused of passing bad checks, shoplifting, breaking into houses, etc. If you live near, or do business with someone who has been charged with or convicted of doing these things, you have the right to know. And as for looking up the information, you’d have to know they had done the crime to know to look it up in the first place.

We attend government meetings to report to you what your elected officials are doing with your money. It’s important that you are aware of how business is being conducted by those entrusted with the power to make changes for a city, a county, or even our country. It’s especially important in an election year such as this, because this is when you, the voter, have a chance to make a change. We know it’s not possible for citizens to attend all of these meetings, so we take on that responsibility and share it with you to keep you informed.

As with any community newspaper, we are here to serve the people, and we strive to do it to the best of our ability. We want to inform you about the business of your local government, and to shine some light, some sunshine perhaps, on that business.