The United States is a representative democracy. The people elect leaders who act for us in government, from local township halls and council chambers to the Congress and White House in Washington, D.C.
In order for people to make the best possible choices about who is to represent them, there must be a free, unobstructed flow of information of, from, and about government to those who cast the votes – the people.
Since it’s too overwhelming to expect an average citizen to keep an eye on government actions, it is the role of the press to be the watchdog of the public– to gather, sift through, analyze, and present information to the public.
Without open government– government that is accessible to the public and its representatives, the free press– the whole thing just doesn’t work.
There are too many opportunities for corruption, incompetence, and general malfeasance for proper oversight. It is the free press that provides the oversight, publishing information and uncovering wrongdoing.
This is National Sunshine Week, when newspapers commemorate the role of openness in government, calling for the sun to shine in on government business so it is not conducted in back rooms and behind closed doors.
The American experiment in democracy is 240 years old. For the experiment to be successful, the light must shine on government. Government must be open, transparent, and accountable to the people through their watchdog– the free press.