Sunshine Week celebrates your right to access public records and information

Published 5:19 pm Saturday, March 17, 2018

As you have probably noticed over the last few months, The Vicksburg Post has resumed the publication of local land transaction records, deeds of trust and marriage license applications that have been issued each week.

For years, The Post published these public information items that can be fairly easily obtained by anyone from the Chancery Court’s office in the Warren County courthouse. We publish this information in our print edition and on our website as a public service to the community and for the most part, have received positive feedback from our readers who enjoy knowing what transactions are taking place. From some of the comments on our Facebook page, others believe it’s a violation of their privacy to have such information published, but the reason we publish this information is the same reason we publish arrest reports — the public has a right to access public records, which these are.

And our reporting of other public records, just like our beefed up reporting of police and sheriff’s office reports and records, will only increase in the coming days.

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This week has been “Sunshine Week,” a time devoted by the news media to shine light on access to public information from government agencies. Open government and freedom of information is vital and holds public officials accountable, while also maintaining the public’s right to know.

Our reporters are in the meetings of city and county government, covering and writing about decisions being made that impact our community on a daily basis, but there are also times when we must access information that is not freely discussed in those meetings.

For the most part, we are blessed with local public officials who make this information readily available when we make a request.

As journalists, it is our responsibility to shine a light into the darkness of government and make certain the public continues to have access to government information in our community.

We publish records because you have the right to know what’s going on in your community. That’s a fundamental American right, and we are proud to help protect it.