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Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant

Posted by Matthew Keller on September 11, 2008

I was expecting to see a little bit more sunlight this morning when I woke up, due mainly to the fact that I was up fairly early to attend a forum entitled “Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant: Empowering Citizens and Providing Accountability.” However, I was greeted with a soft rain and a grey sky. As I entered 85 Gannett Hall, I began to see this “sunlight” that everyone had been talking about.

The purpose of the forum was to discuss the accountability of the media and citizens along with exploring new tools and technology to help keep everyone informed. The session started off with a short introduction from Charles Davis, teacher at the Missouri School of Journalism. Davis proceeded to introduce his fellow panelists, Laura Bryant, Ted Farnen, Adrian Holovaty, and Martin Frost.

After Davis finished loosening us up, Laura Bryant took the floor. Laura Bryant, a member of the Creve Coeur city council, discussed the accountability of the government. Bryant stressed the lack of media coverage in local government and gave examples of how everyday citizens have begun to find their own ways to work around this. Websites like http://www.crevecoeurvoter.com, created by David Caldwell, provide useful information to voters about what the government is working on and currently doing. She finished her presentation by discussing how the Sunshine Law applies to Missouri legislature.

Next to speak was Ted Farnen, a Missouri State Senate Staff member. Farnen emphasized the fact that local and state governments should invest in new technology to access information easier. Providing several local websites, including the Missouri Accountability Portal, Farnen displayed several ways in which technology is allowing citizens to look up government officials personal information. The information that can be found ranges from salary, money owed, home address, and much more. New technology is providing easier ways to search for this type of information.

Adrian Holovaty mainly discussed his own website EveryBlock, which catalogs information from the local area and provides them to the public. EveryBlock is currently being used in several cities including Chicago, the companies home base. The website supplies readers with information about local crimes, news stories, demolitions, and even local restaurant health inspections. Adrian plans to get even more information and cities on the website in the near future.

Last to speak was Martin Frost, the Democratic representative to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Dallas-Fort Worth area from 1979-2005. Frost discussed the need for better shield laws for journalists and the obligation of the press to raise questions, specifically about John McCain’s running mate Governor Palin. Frost finished by naming several more websites through which citizens can become better informed.

Despite the gloomy weather, sunshine truly was the best disinfectant for the day.

3 Responses to “Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant”

  1. John Thomas said

    No offense, but I think you mean Governor Palin.

  2. Jen Reeves said

    Thanks… I appreciate your keen eye. I just changed the copy – with a note that I changed it.

  3. Matthew Keller said

    Yes, thank you for pointing out that mistake.

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