The American Society of News Editors recently released its 2017 Sunshine Week Toolkit, which features all of the content available for participants this year.

The Sunshine Week budget not only serves as an exciting preview of the great content to come, but also serves as a good conversation starter for newsrooms looking to engage with their readers and create their own local stories.

First Amendment

The Associated Press’ Hillel Italie’s piece frames the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment as not only being misunderstood, but also as being under increasing pressure from those who wish to delegitimize the press with claims of fake news and loosened libel laws.

  • Opportunity: Explore how much your readers actually understand about the First Amendment and its importance to the free and open press in the U.S. Create a conversation around claims of “fake news” and exactly how attempts to delegitimization the press hinders your ability to truthfully report on real news stories.

Freedom of Information

McClatchy’s Stuart Leavenworth explores the relationship between government and public records and the problems that can be created on a local level when access to information is hindered.

  • Opportunity: Give specific examples of how your newsroom has used information from public records in recent coverage and how exactly that coverage might have been hindered if information wasn’t available. Explain to your readers the process of obtaining public records and give examples of the types of local information they might be able to find for themselves.

More Bright Ideas

For even more Sunshine Week coverage ideas, the organization has its own Idea Bank, which features ideas for newsrooms that are looking for starting points for stories in their own communities.

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