With snow still lining the streets and sidewalks of the greater Washington area, many of the region's residents are probably hoping that Thursday's start of spring brings with it a little long-awaited sunshine.
The Investigative Reporting Workshop isn't in the business of making climatological promises. But we can say that there's a little more light beaming down on D.C. than usual as part of Sunshine Week — a national intiative sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press designed to foster a dialogue about freedom of information and the public's right to know what, exactly, its government is up to.
There are panel discussions, workshops and other events about using and understanding the latest developments in freedom of information resources taking place across the country this week, and a full, nationwide listing is available at the Sunshine Week website.
With the snow melting and the roads clearing up, here are a few that our readers in Washington might be interested in — including one co-sponsored by the American University School of Communication.
Wednesday, March 19 (tonight!)
D.C. Open Government Summit
The D.C. Open Government Coalition will hold its third annual D.C. Open Government Summit focusing on open government in neighborhoods and communities. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the National Press Club and is co-sponsored by the National Press Club’s Freedom of the Press Committee, the D.C. Professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American University School of Communication. Space is limited, but tickets are free: Register here if you're hoping to attend.
Thursday, March 20
Examining the Road Forward after Five Years of Work
The Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy will host a meeting of the FOIA IT Working Group to discuss how digital tools can help agencies better administer FOIA requests and to highlight some best practices. The meeting from 10 a.m. to noon is open to all agency FOIA professionals, interested agency technology specialists and members of the public. For more information, see the Office of Information Policy's online announcement.
Sunshine and JFK: The Latest on Secrecy and Assassination-Related Records.
A panel of experts will talk about the secrecy that surrounds records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Topics include the 1992 JFK Records Act; an audio analysis of audio recording from Air Force One; assassination-related records that have never been seen by the public; and new and ongoing litigation against the CIA and Defense Department related to JFK’s death. The briefing will take place at the Mott House in Washington from 11 a.m. to noon. For additional information, see the JFK Facts website.
Threats to Transparency: Problems with Money in Politics
Lobbying disclosure, campaign finance disclosure and dark money will be discussed by panelists at the Center for Responsive Politics’ event at the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C. The program will be held from 2-5 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Registration information is available at this link.
Civil Liberties Dead Zone: Do First and Fourth Amendment Rights Not Apply at the Border?
A 6:30 p.m. panel discussion hosted by the National Press Club Freedom of the Press Committee will examine known cases of media workers and journalists who have been interrogated at the U.S. border by Homeland Security Department officials, who have demanded access to laptops, thumb drives and other digital devices. The event is free to National Press Club members and $5 for the public. More information and a registration form is available on the Press Club website.
Friday, March 21
Supreme Sunshine: Shining a Light on the High Court
A panel of legal experts, moderated by Slate Supreme Court reporter Dahlia Lithwick, will examine transparency, or lack thereof, in the U.S. Supreme Court at this breakfast panel discussion beginning at 9:30 a.m. at NYU Washington. The event is free and open to the public, and those attending will have the opportunity to participate in “The SCOTUS Booth of Truth” where they can record a short video with their thoughts on transparency at the court. To register, or to watch the event live online, visit the NYU Washington website.
Screening: "JFK: A President Betrayed"
JFK Vigil will host a video screening of “JFK: A President Betrayed” at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, D.C., from 7 to 9:30 p.m. The film will be followed by a discussion of how “constitutional activism” can help expedite release of assassination-related records still classified. Suggested donation for the event is $10. Click here for more information and to register.