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No more important time to trust in journalists

Local newspapers do a great deal to shine a light on that which some wish would remain in the dark, so that our readers get all the information they need about what is happening in our communities.

This year’s Sunshine Week falls during the first week of school closures in West Virginia and Ohio, closures of many government offices to the public, and cancellations of sporting events at all levels as a response to COVID-19. Our reporters will not stop attending public meetings, gathering information from the courthouses, or contacting our local officials. Our reporters will not stop making sure you have all the information you need.

This year’s Sunshine Week theme is “The Right to Know.” Our government exists because we elect some officials, and they appoint the bureaucracy. Our tax dollars fund it. Citizens have the right to know how the government and bureaucracy conduct their business — our business — and newspapers go a long way toward making sure that happens.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost was right last week when he reinforced his annual release of Ohio’s “Yellow Book,” with a personal reminder about the importance of continuing to conduct public meetings properly during this confusing time. The Yellow Book is a guide that rounds up the past year’s changes in law or legal decisions affecting Ohio’s open-meetings and government transparency laws.

“Even during a crisis — and maybe more so then — it is important to keep the public informed, so that citizens do not panic and so they can make informed decisions,” he said during a live online broadcast.

In an op-ed about Sunshine Week, Jim Zachary, president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said “Journalists keep an eye on government, shine the light on its actions, fight the good fight for access to documents and meetings, champion transparency and defend the First Amendment because of a core belief in your basic, fundamental rights — principally, your right to know.”

We take very seriously our responsibility to accurately and thoroughly report on our government, the bureaucracy, boards, commissions, community organizations — and the community as a whole. We do that for our communities, not just this week, but every week.

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