Open Government, Sylva. Matt Rose/Carolina Public Press

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Carolina Public Press Investigations and Open Government Editor Jon Elliston speaks as Quintin Ellison, left, and Jonathan Jones look on during the Newsmakers forum held on March 17 in Sylva. Ellison is a reporter with The Sylva Herald and Jones is the director of the N.C. Open Government Coalition. Matt Rose/Carolina Public Press

At its Newsmakers forum held on March 17, Carolina Public Press hosted some of the state’s top open government advocates and reporters for a live interview and public question and answer forum about challenges to open government in North Carolina. Two dozen people attended the free and public forum, which was held at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva.

The event also helped mark Sunshine Week, the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.

In North Carolina, the week is an opportunity for journalists, open government advocates, public officials and community members to discuss open government and its importance to a transparent and vibrant democracy.

The Newsmakers forums are events held by Carolina Public Press that allow journalists, top policy makers, elected officials, business and community leaders to have an open and nonpartisan dialogue with the public about top issues facing Western North Carolina.

This month, the event followed an investigative report by Carolina Public Press, which analyzed the frequency and causes for county commissioners in the 18 westernmost counties of the state to go into closed session. The report revealed that county commissions throughout the 18 westernmost counties went into closed session nearly 300 times in 2014, with the vast majority of minutes from those secret session still unreleased.

MORE: Govt. behind closed doors: Investigation shows hundreds of secretive WNC county meetings, with few details released
Closed session minutes from WNC’s boards of commissioners

We want to hear from you

What are your questions, concerns, ideas and analysis about the transparency of town and county governments in North Carolina? Write Jon Elliston at to share your accolades and concerns.

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Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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