Newspaper Editorials: “Public records need to be available to its citizenry”
Newspaper Editorials: "Public records need to be available to its citizenry"
The Boston Globe, Eagle-Tribune, Springfield Republican, Worcester Telegram and Boston Herald editorial boards endorsed Common Cause Massachusetts supported legislation to ensure timely and affordable public access to government documents.
The Boston Globe board writes:
EASY ACCESS to public records is necessary for government accountability. But Massachusetts’ public record law is out of date. State agencies routinely charge 20 cents a page for documents that can be delivered in an electronic format, and requests for documents often go months without reply. Fortunately, an amendment filed by Representative Peter Kocot of Northampton would correct these deficiencies. Legislators should embrace it.
The Eagle-Tribune board writes:
“Massachusetts has a well-deserved reputation as the birthplace of American democracy. Sadly, however, the state and its legislators have not done enough to ensure complete and timely access to the public records that show citizens how that democracy works “‘ or doesn’t work.
It’s easy to dismiss the dispute over access to public records as an argument between elected officials and the media. Public documents, however, are open to anyone, regardless of profession or politics. They are the bread and butter of government, and need to be available to its citizenry.”
The Springfield Republican board writes:
These are sensible changes that will make public documents more accessible to indivduals and the media while preserving Massachusetts’ reputation as a reform-minded state.
The Worcester Telegram board writes:
Government needs to be very wary about walling itself off from the public. It cannot be said frequently or emphatically enough: Our system thrives in and requires the light.
So we welcome a push in Massachusetts to smooth the operation of public records requests.
The revisions being promoted by journalists, Massachusetts Common Cause, and others, are modest steps toward disentangling some of the difficulties that can accompany such requests.
The Boston Herald board writes:
Massachusetts has been left in the dust by other states when it comes to providing access to public records, an even sadder statement when we consider that other states aren’t exactly flooring it. A group of First Amendment advocates is working to change that “‘ and the taxpayers must support them in that effort.
This isn’t about making life easier for journalists. It’s about making the critical business of government available to the public in whose name that business is conducted.
The editorial boards could not be more right. Our outdated public records law too often prevents citizens for following the “story of [our] community’s civic life.”