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December 20, 2013

OUR VIEW: Open door policy best for public, government

Before Jan. 1, we’ll be sending letters to the many government agencies and schools in our coverage area with requests for planned meeting places in 2014.

We won’t be alone in doing so either. We’ll be joined by hundreds of newspapers across the state.

Why?

It’s all part of the Indiana Open Door Law.

Aimed at keeping the public informed of what its government is doing, the law requires governmental agencies to notify the public of when meetings are to be held. Newspapers play a part in this process as well. That’s where the letters come in. We send the letters to let these governmental agencies know we want to inform our readers of their planned meetings.

It’s something newspapers do every year. It’s something we do with purpose and conviction.

It’s not something we do just be annoying or because we’re nosy. We do it for you, the reader and the taxpayer. Why? Because it’s your government and you should know what it’s doing. If you want to break it down to the real nitty gritty, it’s your money they’re spending.

We publish a list of upcoming public meetings every day in the paper. You’ll find them on Page A3 at the bottom of the right rail. We print them so you can play your part in local government. One way you can do that is by actually attending those public meetings.

We are able to offer this public service because governmental agencies comply with the law, which requires 48-hour notice. In fact, we have found that many more than comply with the law. We haven’t even sent out the letters and have already received the 2014 meeting dates for some agencies.

We think they do this because they not only understand the letter of the open door law, they understand the spirit of it as well. The law isn’t meant to be a “gotcha!” set of requirements that pits media and governmental agencies against one another. Rather, it’s meant to lay the groundwork for a cohesive relationship that allows the public to come out as the winner.

So whether you receive the letter as a representative of the governmental agency or are reading the public notice in the paper, know we do this every year for all involved. We are at our best — journalists and government alike — when we conduct business out in the open.

THE ISSUE Indiana Open Door Law. OUR VIEW

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