Sunshine Week events to teach importance of transparency, diversity


After a week-long spring break, the sun will shine on Central Michigan University in more ways than one. 

March 13-19 is National Sunshine Week – a celebration of transparency, open government and journalism ethics. While often promoted by media professionals, Sunshine Week covers topics every engaged citizen should know. 

For the last few months, Central Michigan Life has partnered with multiple departments and organizations to plan a week's worth of educational events - all of which are free and open to the public. 

See below for the schedule and brief summaries of the events:

Monday, March 14: SunshineU

A look into the Freedom of Information Act at Michigan Universities

5:30 p.m. in Anspach 161

SunshineU will be hosted by the CMU Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists - a Registered Student Organization dedicated to studying transparency law and its effects on the lives of citizens.

SPJ will present its findings after using the Freedom of Information Act at seven Michigan universities. 

"Our presentation will offer a candid look into the transparency of Michigan public universities, including CMU," SPJ President Courtney Pedersen said.

(Hosted by the CMU Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists)

Monday, March 14: "Trust Me" Screening + Creator Meet & Greet

An award-winning documentary about the way media shapes the world

7 p.m. in Anspach 161

"Trust Me" has won four "best documentary" awards at U.S. film festivals, and is now the best-selling film for New Day Films, a leading American distributor of cause-related films.

It has also been featured at annual conferences worldwide, including the U.S. State Department's Global Conference on Media Literacy and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

After watching the film, participants will be able to ask the producers questions via a virtual Q&A.

(Hosted by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center)

Tuesday, March 15: Beers, Bets and Blunts: Emerging Beats in Michigan Media

Covering new topics for a changing media audience 

1-3 p.m. in Pearce 128

This forum will feature working journalists covering some of the most interesting industries in the state. Audience members will ask questions and the reporters will do what they do best - give answers. 

Panelists include: 

  • Gus Burns, Mlive
  • Matt Schoch, Catena Media
  • Brian Manzullo, Detriot Free Press

Wednesday, March 16: How Media Literacy can Combat Fake News

Engaged citizens fight misinformation, learn how you can too

6-7 p.m. in the Bovee University Center Rotunda 

A panel of media professionals from across the state will speak on the power of civic engagement. Learn what makes a news source trustworthy. Take away tips to navigating the media landscape as a consumer of news.

“Civic engagement and government transparency go hand in hand. When students trust that they can actually make a change, they are more likely to vote, run for office, volunteer for candidates, and ultimately, trust the process," Central Civics Student Coordinator Maddie Thomas said. "Without government transparency and free press, students won’t feel like what they say or do will make a difference. That is why this event and Sunshine Week is so important.” 

Panelists include:

  • Amy Robinson, news director, WCMU
  • Ben Solis, Political Reporter, Gongwer News Service 
  • Sara Scott, reporter, MLive
  • Troy Hicks, CMU Faculty

(Hosted by the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center)

Friday, March 18: Diversity in your News and Newsrooms

Discussions with a multicultural panel on the importance of representation in our media

1 p.m. in Anspach 161

A newsroom must represent the community it serves. Hear from a stacked panel of award-winning journalists as they discuss covering some of the most important stories in the state in recent years. 

"There's so much power in reporting," Director of the Office of Diversity Education Nikita Murry said. "We can't make the argument for a free press and still not do justice for all of the voices in a community."

This forum will be followed by breakout sessions in Moore Hall classrooms where participants can have one-on-one interactions with these journalists. 

Panelists include: 

  • Kirkland Crawford, Sports Editor, Detriot Free Press
  • Jake May, Flint Journal, MLive, Pulitzer Prize finalists in Feature Photojournalism
  • Alyssa Burr, Flint Journal, MLive, Social and Cultural Policy Reporter 
  • Sierra Clark, Report for America, Traverse City Record-Eagle, covering Indigenous communities in Northern Michigan
  • John Gonzalez, Grand Rapids Press/Michigan's Best, MLive 

(Hosted by the Office of Diversity Education)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Schedule may be subject to change in the coming weeks.