In the midst of Sunshine Week, a week dedicated to the laws requiring government organizations to be open with the public, the press finds itself once again under fire.
Nick Sandmann is suing both The Washington Post and CNN for $250 million each, accusing them of libel. Sandmann says his reason for choosing that amount lies in the price Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post for: $250 million.
On Jan. 18 at the Lincoln Memorial, a confrontation between Covington Catholic High School students, Native American marchers for the Indigenous Peoples March and five Black Hebrew Israelites occurred that has now earned international recognition.
The students, many wearing MAGA hats, were insulted by the Black Hebrew Israelites. Despite being informed that interacting with the five men would result in consequences, the high school boys did what they did best and disregarded instructions, hurling insults back.
Eventually, Native American marcher Nathan Phillips made his way over to the scuffle and began playing an American Indian Movement intertribal song on his drum. He approached Sandmann, a Covington Catholic junior, and played in the boy’s face.
In the video, Sandmann is seen with a sly smile on his face, yet he never says one word to the man. At one point, he is seen calming a fellow student down.
Now, with articles flying right and left, Sandmann is suing The Washington Post and CNN for libel.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 10, 2019
But what does this all have to do with Sunshine Week?
Sunshine Week celebrates the creation of the Sunshine laws – laws that require government organizations and other political agencies to allow the public to access their records and attend their meetings.
They are laws that allow the press to delve into the truth behind the confusion that can be the political spectrum; they allow journalists to write and ensure the public’s right to know is followed through.
The Washington Post and CNN may not find protection against their opposition in the Sunshine Laws this time, but that does not take away from the importance that is layered and woven within the laws.
The Sunshine Laws require so much to be disclosed to the public, and they are the reason that the government lives in secret fear of the press. Whether it be a legal issue, the firing of an employee or a purchase, the people have the right to know.
What worries the press is that most people have no clue that they have the right to this information.
Organizations, administrations and agencies everywhere have built up this false picture of the press; they are seemingly trying to brainwash people to believe that the media is trying to twist their views to be what the media specifically wants.
This should not be the goal of the media; unfortunately, certain media organizations allow biases to penetrate their message. It’s like they say, one bad apple ruins the bunch. It is these organizations that have tainted those wishing to spread truth.
The goal of the media should be to ensure that you, as the public, as the decision makers and shapers of the nation, know every single fact about the events happening in the world you live in.
And it is this that has struck fear into the hearts of politicians everywhere.
It was never the media’s intention to become so “scary.” We are filled with a curiosity that drives us to find the truth. Filing open records requests becomes second nature to journalists; we want to know what is going on in the world around us.
Without knowing what is true and what is not, how can we be expected to make informed decisions?
It is this question that has inspired the media and journalists everywhere to discover those hidden truths and bring them into the public eye. Politicians see this inspiration as a threat, though. With each mistake they make, another fact rises that could inhibit their platform and re-election.
I leave you with this: the Sunshine Laws are a protection to be thankful for. Look for fact in everything, question each word you hear until you know whether it is true or not. Let your curiosity lead and inspire you.
Happy Sunshine Week, everyone!