Jonathan Jones named director of North Carolina Open Government Coalition

The assistant district attorney for Durham County will begin in August and will also teach in Elon's School of Communications.

Jonathan D. Jones, currently an assistant district attorney for Durham County, will become director of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition and Sunshine Center in mid-August. He also will teach courses in Elon University’s School of Communications.

As the NCOGC director, his duties will include working with the coalition’s board to organize the state’s annual Sunshine Day, advising citizens about open government issues, producing webinars or workshops around the state, handling communication for the coalition, and finding new ways to inform North Carolina citizens of the value and processes of open government in the state.

“Having an open and accessible government is so important in a democracy, and Elon’s School of Communications is honored to be the home of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition,” said Paul Parsons, dean of the school and a member of the coalition’s board of directors. “Jonathan Jones will help spread the word about the value and processes of open government, and we are thrilled he will be joining our faculty.”

Jones previously worked for the NCOGC as a legal intern in summer 2010, when he researched feasibility and business models for a regional nonprofit investigative reporting center. Now he returns to the coalition, excited to promote openness across the state.

“I’m ecstatic to pick up on the tremendous work coalition members have already been doing to educate record holders and record seekers about our state’s open government laws,” Jones said. “Transparency in government is the cornerstone of democracy. It instills public trust and gives citizens faith in their government. I look forward to helping sunshine find its way into communities across our state.”

Jones joined the Durham County District Attorney’s Office in 2011 as a legal extern while completing coursework for his joint master’s degree and law degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was named an assistant district attorney in January 2012, and during his tenure, he has prosecuted more than 100 trials. He also handles domestic violence misdemeanor appeals in superior court.

Jones completed his master’s thesis on the topic of Internet defamation and served as editor-in-chief of the First Amendment Law Review. He worked from 2007-2011 on UNC’s Innocence Project and was a law clerk in the Office of the Appellate Defender.

He has published in the First Amendment Law Review, News Media & The Law and “Sunshine, Inc.: The Basics of Covering Business Organizations” produced by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

He earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from UNC as well and worked for six years as a reporter at newspapers in Maryland and Virginia and at the News & Record in Greensboro.

In the NCOGC role, Jones succeeds Brooke Barnett, professor of communications who has become interim associate provost for inclusive community at Elon.

The North Carolina Open Government Coalition unites organizations interested in ensuring and enhancing the public’s access to government activity, records and meetings. The nonpartisan coalition educates people about their rights, supports their efforts to gain access, and advocates the principles and benefits of open government. The Sunshine Center is the educational arm of the NCOGC and focuses on outreach efforts to inform citizens about the importance of government openness. Elon’s School of Communications has housed the coalition and center since 2007.