It's Sunshine Week, newspapers' annual push for open government

Newspaper readers believe open government is good government, according to one study, while another finds public support for secrecy as necessary.

Two newspaper industry-funded studies took a look at the public's opinion of how open the government should be, and found both support for open government and high tolerance for secrecy. The studies were timedfor Sunshine Week, an open government initiative created by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Sixty-two percent of respondents to a Scripps Survey Research Center poll conducted at the request of the American Society of Newspaper Editors said "public access to government records is critical to the functioning of good government."

The poll indicated that only a third of Americans consider the federal government "very open." Twenty-two percent of respondents consider the federal government "very secretive"; another 42 percent said it was "somewhat secretive."

A second study by the AccessNorthwest research project at Washington State University found "eight in 10 (81 percent) said democracy requires government operate openly."

While nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) told researchers that open public records and meetings keep government honest, nearly as many (63 percent) said it was okay for government officials to keep records secret if they deem it necessary, and almost three-quarters of the public (73 percent) believe the president should "make some public records secret if it might help with the war on terrorism."

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