Comment: More ‘sunshine’ can help trust in government thrive

TVW provides an unfiltered window into the proceedings of the state Legislature and agencies.

By Renee Radcliff Sinclair / For The Herald

This week, March 13-19, marks “Sunshine Week,” an annual event highlighting the importance of open government; from city hall to Congress.

Launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors, this week-long celebration began as a way to “shine a light” on Freedom of Information and Open Meetings acts and underscore access to public information. Seventeen years and a pandemic later, its emphasis on transparency and open government remains more relevant than ever.

Regrettably, covid-19 and the pandemic may have hastened the eroding trust of our core institutions; both government and the media. Americans’ growing distrust of government and deepening partisan divides were only made more pronounced by the virus and exacerbated by the pervasiveness of social media.

A measure of that distrust can be seen in the 2021 Edelman Trust Index, where 1 in 2 respondents said they view government (48 percent) and media (46 percent) as divisive forces in society. Even more concerning: Less than half of respondents said they trust government leaders (42 percent) and journalists (46 percent). Some 64 percent of Trust Index respondents said it’s now to a point where people are incapable of having constructive and civil debates about issues they disagree on.

Unfortunately, it now appears distrust has become our default setting.

And so, post-pandemic, reversing these trends becomes the real work for us all. Fortunately, there are ways to restore trust in our democratic institutions, starting with the mere act of providing credible information. Trustworthy, consistent and fact- based information is critical to breaking the cycle of distrust, according to the Edelman report. And access to that information is the sunshine that engenders trust.

Here in Washington state, the best way we know how to do this is to let people observe the legislative process first-hand and decide for themselves. The vehicle is TVW, a non-partisan TV and streaming network dedicated to coverage of all three branches of government. For 27 years now, TVW has given Washingtonians a front-row view of the legislative session, state Supreme Court hearings and other state agency meetings and hearings.

And since March 2020, TVW has continued to provide that same exceptional access to the public when covid shuttered the state Capitol campus, state agencies and direct contact with elected officials. From the governor’s daily press conferences to health briefings from the Department of Health, and the 2021 remote legislative sessions, the public could view official proceedings even when the doors to government were closed. Today, Olympia is still off limits to but a handful of legislators and staff. As such, TVW remains the public’s front-row seat to state proceedings.

Because TVW is nonpartisan, viewers hear directly from decision makers — without filter, bias or commentary — as they work through a variety of challenging issues. That access to primary news sources allows viewers to hear the debate, ponder the issues and make up their own minds about the efficacy of government, public schools, health care solutions and more. By providing the public with unfiltered access to government proceedings, TVW works to ensure all Washingtonians can monitor and lay witness to state government.

Providing access to government is essential to having an informed electorate, one willing to engage in civil discussions about what divides us. TVW is a digital form of sunshine, a vital part of resolving the “infodemic” we now find ourselves in.

Renee Radcliff Sinclair, a former state representative, is the current president and chief executive of TVW.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

RGB version
Editorial cartoons for Thursday, Feb. 22

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Jaime Benedict, who works as a substitute teacher, waves to drivers on the corner of Mukilteo Speedway and Harbor Pointe Boulevard while holding a sign in support of the $240 million capital bond proposal for Mukilteo School District on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Bar set unfairly high for passage of school bonds

Requiring 60 percent approval denies too many students the schools and facilities they deserve.

Comment: Presidential primary launches state’s election season

With ballots in the mail, here’s what to know and how to prepare for making your choice for U.S. president.

Keep Clark Park gazebo; it holds memories for many

Just want to put my two cents in about the removal of… Continue reading

Focus more effort on preventing opioid addiction

A recent Herald editorial cited a report from U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen’s… Continue reading

Navalny’s death loss for Russia, world

The world was informed recently that Alexei Navalny died in a Russian… Continue reading

Comment: Primaries offers chance to judge vote-by-mail’s success

So far, state caucuses and primaries have seen low turnout. Will mailed ballots see higher participation?

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Feb. 21

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Feb. 20

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

A leasing sign in visible outside of A’cappella Apartment Homes on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Cap on rent can keep more people in their homes

The legislation balances affordability with the need to encourage growth in the stock of housing.

Election signs line a section of Mukilteo Blvd. in Everett. (Sue Misao / Everett Herald)
Editorial: Switch of local elections may be premature

Adding local elections to even-year ballots could boost participation but election officials have concerns.

"Law & Order" cast members (from left) S. Epatha Merkerson, Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson are shown with episode director Marisol Torres on the show's set in New York, in April 2008. (Bernadette Tuazon / Associated Press file photo)
Editorial: Leave the interrogation ruses to the TV cop shows

A House bill would limit the use of deceptive interrogations that have resulted in wrongful convictions.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.