North Carolina law gives citizens the right to all sorts of government data, from state employee emails to the minutes of closed meetings. But how reliable are our state institutions when it comes to delivering that data? That is one question that North Carolina reporters hoped to answer this year for Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide event dedicated to holding government agencies accountable and making citizens aware of their rights to open government data.
This year a number of news outlets across the state organized a collaborative news story in which their reporters reached out to various levels of government to request minutes from closed meetings. The report found that information is often delivered late and heavily redacted. Host Frank Stasio talks to Jason deBruyn, WUNC’s data reporter, about his participation in the Sunshine Week story and the roadblocks he often runs into when requesting government information.
He also talks to Hugh Stevens, an attorney who was the official counsel for the North Carolina Press Association for more than 20 years, about the importance of open government and the recourse citizens have when they are refused access to public information.