Secrecy Is Too Often the Norm in Pennsylvania State and Local Governments | Newtown News of Interest |

Our state and local governments exist to serve our communities. We pay our taxes each year, and in return, we the taxpayers have a right to know what our government is doing, how it’s spending our money and whether we’re getting the services we deserve.


But there are fewer and fewer journalists on the front lines, keeping the government honest — and when officials don’t face questions or requests for public records on a regular basis, they increasingly lean toward the side of secrecy over transparency.


Making matters worse, state and local governments have vastly more resources than members of the public, allowing them to fight requests for information in court (using taxpayer dollars!) knowing full well that most requesters can’t afford to fight back.


We know all too well what can happen when governments are left to their own devices. And that’s why Spotlight PA and many of our partner newsrooms are forging creative solutions to shift the balance of power back in favor of you, the taxpayer.


This week is Sunshine Week, a nationwide effort each year to call attention to the importance of government transparency and access to public records. Those are two principles that are core to the mission of Spotlight PA, the statewide newsroom I lead.


If you’re not familiar with our work, Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom covering the state Capitol in Harrisburg and urgent statewide issues. We share all of our journalism at no cost with more than 90 news outlets across the state.


And we work to bring our partners together to fight for transparency.


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