March 12 - 18, 2023
Each year in March, news media organizations across the country take this time to highlight the importance of transparency in our government, and we underscore the vital work our journalists do to fight for access to records that shed light on government activity.
Throughout the year, PNA continues to advocate, on your behalf, for more access to essential information from all levels of government. We remain focused on the Right-to-Know Law and related transparency issues as well as ensuring that public notices remain in newspapers of general circulation.
Sunshine Week Promotional Advertising Campaign
SHINE A LIGHT
PNA has prepared a promotional campaign in celebration of Sunshine Week from March 12-18. This campaign includes print and digital ads, and suggested social media posts. Complete the form below to access the ads.
Access a series of suggested social media posts.
Sunshine Week 2023 Ad Campaign
Sunshine Week Columns
The following columns have been provided for PNA members to run in their publications, both in print and online. Please use the links provided to download the items.
The Sunshine Act: What you need to know about public meetings
Media Law Counsel
Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association
Still searching for sunshine in ‘open society’
The Daily Item and Danville News
Sunshine Act Resources
Editorial Talking Points
Information to include in news articles,
editorials, op-eds, cartoons,
podcasts, videos and events.
Sunshine Act Q&A
The PNA Legal Team has answered
14 common questions about Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act.
for making objections
at public meetings.
Training and Events
The Sunshine Act: Pennsylvania’s Open Meetings Law
This virtual session reviews Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act with a focus on recent changes and frequently asked questions. Melissa Melewsky, PNA’s Media Law Counsel, explains Pennsylvania’s Open Meetings Law, including reporters’ most common concerns such as remote meetings, agenda requirements, misuse of executive sessions, public comment restrictions, deliberations via email/texts, and pursuing penalties for alleged violations.
- SPJ, LNP hosting Sunshine Week panel discussion on Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law and open courts.
- From Spotlight PA: A free panel on how to obtain public health information in Pa.
- From Duquesne University: The Cost of Not Knowing: Why Open Records Matter and How You Should Be Using Them
What are the Sunshine Act and Right-to-Know Law?
The Sunshine Act and Right-to-Know Law are Pennsylvania’s primary public access laws. These laws guarantee the public’s right to access government information at public meetings and through public records. Public access to meetings and records is fundamental to the public’s ability to understand government actions and hold government officials accountable.
The Sunshine Act
The Sunshine Act applies to public agencies, which include Pennsylvania executive branch agencies, the General Assembly, and municipal authorities, such as township boards of supervisors and local school boards. The Act requires agencies to hold public meetings any time a quorum deliberates agency business or takes official action. As with many laws, there are exceptions to the public meeting requirements of the Sunshine Act, but the law begins with a statement of intent, stressing the right of the public to witness the decision-making process to ensure that the democratic process functions properly.
The Right-to-Know Law
The Right-to-Know Law applies to executive branch agencies and local agencies, including school districts, townships, other municipalities, and authorities. The law also applies on a limited basis to the General Assembly and to the court system’s financial records. The law begins with the presumption that records in the possession of government agencies are public records and must be provided within the framework of the law. There are exemptions to the law that allow agencies to deny public access, but the law places the burden of proof on an agency to show why a requested record is not public.