Renowned Editor, Broadcaster Hodding Carter III Signs on as Sunshine Week 2006 Honorary Chair

WASHINGTON — Hodding Carter III — an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, former State Department spokesman, and past president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation—has joined the Sunshine Week national open government initiative as honorary chairman for 2006.

During Sunshine Week 2006, March 12-18, media organizations, civic groups, libraries, schools, non-profit organizations and others nationwide will participate in coverage of and discussions about the importance of protecting public access to government.

“Sunshine Week aims to empower the American people by demanding that government open its doors and allow a free flow of news and information—and I’m proud to be part of it,” said Carter, now professor of leadership and public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “With the totalitarian model of all-powerful Big Brother in retreat around the world, this is no time to tolerate it here at home.”

In his role as honorary chairman, Carter will serve as a national spokesman for the Sunshine Week initiative, which highlights the importance of preserving open government. In addition, Carter will serve as an adviser the national Sunshine Week Executive Committee and coordination staff.

“We’re very excited that Hodding has come aboard as honorary chairman. His unparalleled experience at the highest levels of journalism and government bring to Sunshine Week a powerful resource that will help us build an even stronger presence in 2006,” said Andy Alexander, Cox Newspapers Washington bureau chief and chairman of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Freedom of Information Committee.

“After the phenomenal success of the first national Sunshine Week in 2005, some of us were concerned about how we could equal that showing,” Alexander added. “But the escalating pace of government secrecy at all levels has really sparked incredible creativity and enthusiasm in former and new participants in their efforts to preserve open government during Sunshine Week and year-round.”

Several new programs already are underway for Sunshine Week 2006. They include:

  • Publication of the first “Bright Ideas” book, featuring examples of some different approaches to Sunshine Week coverage and events from 2005. The book, which will be available in a limited number of print copies, is downloadable from the Sunshine Week Web site (www.sunshineweek.org/sunshineweek/brightideas06).
  • On March 17, the PBS weekly newsmagazine NOW will air a one-hour special about government secrecy as part of Sunshine Week. In “The Sunshine Gang,” NOW will focus on the erosion of open government in America through the stories of whistleblowers
  • A national teleforum on Monday, March 13, that will examine the question, “Are We Safer in the Dark?” The panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, moderated by Geneva Overholser of the Missouri School of Journalism’s Washington bureau, will be fed via satellite to host locations across the country. Following the national program, those sites will engage in discussions of openness issues particular to their states and communities.
  • The League of Women Voters has selected 14 sites to receive small grants to help them host Sunshine Week events. The LWV also has developed a resource guide for all chapters planning local Sunshine Week events.
  • An expanded role for Sunshine Week as a co-sponsor of National Freedom of Information Day on March 16, the First Amendment Center’s annual meeting of FOI experts and interested parties.
  • A national survey looking at public perception of open government issues, conducted by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
  • Television and radio open government public service ads developed in conjunction with the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation. The ads will feature the Sunshine Week logo for use March 12-18, with another version featuring an evergreen logo that can be used year-round.

In addition, the Sunshine Week Web site will be a resource for participants to download a variety of free Toolkit materials. Regional and State Coordinators will again serve as point people in their geographic areas.

The son of a newspaper publisher, Carter started his journalism career as a reporter at the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville, Miss., later becoming editor. Carter spent a year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. In January 1977, Carter became State Department spokesman and assistant secretary of state for public affairs, serving during the Iran hostage crisis.

After returning to journalism, Carter won four national Emmys and the Edward R. Murrow Award for his television documentaries for the Inside Story media criticism series. Carter was a frequent chief correspondent for the PBS series Frontline, was a regular panelist on This Week with David Brinkley, and hosted, anchored, reported for and served as a panelist on several public affairs programs on PBS, ABC, CBS, the BBC and CNN.

For 10 years, Carter was a Washington-based columnist for The Wall Street Journal, he  has contributed to other leading newspapers, and was syndicated by United Media/NEA in the early 1990s. Carter also was president and chairman of a television production company specializing in public affairs programming. He is the author of two books and has contributed to nine others.

Prior to joining the faculty at UNC in 2004, Carter had been president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami since 1998.

To read more about Carter’s career achievements and accolades, log on to his biography on the UNC Web site, www.unc.edu/depts/pubpol/cater_bio.html.

Sunshine Week is a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include print, broadcast and online news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know. Sunshine Week is led by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.