Posted tagged ‘lazy’

The Lazy journalist index

November 9, 2010

 

Freedom comes at a cost

 

A few weeks ago I wrote a post decrying the sad state of a part of our great British media and in particular their favourite tool of laziness; the Freedom of Information Act.

As a part of this post I promised that if people sent in some nominations for those journalists who most often mis-used the FoI Act I’d come up with some form of ranking and publish it on the site.

That was three weeks ago and as the more observant of you would have noticed I haven’t yet written that post. The reasons are two-fold:

1) We actually got quite a good response from information officers and others from around the country and I needed to work out some form of ranking.

2) I suddenly had this feeling that writing a post about lazy journalists with a penchant for FoI requests was not a very bright idea.

However, after much thought I have decided to suck it up and not let down the people who have sent us e-mails etc. On the issue of ranking I have decided to us a very basic system and just give you the three top scorers as these were far and away above the others. So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the top three FoI related drains on the public purse:

  • Chris Hastings from the Mail on Sunday
  • Jasper Copping from the Daily Telegraph
  • Adam Thorne from the News of the World

I advise you all to check out some of their work and remember each FoI request can cost about £280 per authority and many of these requests go to over 400 authorities a time… That is over £80,000 per news story; I’ll leave you to judge whether the stories are worth the cost.

These journalists no doubt do a very good job and have hunted out some awesome stories but FoIs about biscuits, equality officers and people with climate change in their job title probably don’t add up to good value to the public purse!

On a slightly lighter note one of my correspondents suggested the following:

Maybe we should submit a FOI request to the major newspapers to find out a few things, namely:

  • how many FOI requests they have made to Local Authorities over the past 12 months;
  • the names of the journalists who made them (also their pay grades and job titles);
  • the nature of these enquiries;
  • how many were to confirm an existing story;
  • how many were speculative;
  • how many led to a positive news release;
  • how many to a negative news release;
  • the increase in circulation figures as a direct result of these stories, and;
  • the number of journalists who can sleep at night.

If only the FoI applied to national newspapers I for one would be the first person to submit that request!

Advertisements

The Freedom of ‘Lazy Journalism’ Act

October 18, 2010

Freedom to stencil

In the publicity surrounding his recently published memoir ‘A Journey’ Tony Blair was asked if there was anything he regretted from his time in office. Cleverly dodging the obvious answer, ‘Iraq’, our former Prime Minister surprised the watching masses by answering: ‘The Freedom of Information Act’.

Those watching probably responded to this with a big yawn but Mr Blair was 100% right: the FOI Act drives many of us to distraction.

I’m not going to get into the morality of the issue; I personally believe that the more information in the public realm the better but for Local Government staff the morality of the issue is basically besides the point; practically it is a nightmare.

The real problem is that many of the requests we receive are not from concerned citizens but from seriously lazy and, dare I say, incompetent journalists. Not all journalists are lazy or incompetent and some who use the FoI Act do so with devastating effectiveness.

(more…)

If only BP felt this way

August 30, 2010

I love a good cup of coffee.  If I can’t get it freshly ground from the finest beans and served as strong as Hulk Hogan and hot as Megan Fox, I’ll just as easily accept it the other way around.

I regularly put my hand up to make a cup, and offer to make one for colleagues which often results in me carrying a handful of mugs of steaming hot liquid of various descriptions.

Recently I was in such a situation when I found my hands growing rapidly warmer.  I had only started on my journey and had made it as far as some stone-type flooring before hitting the office proper when I could take it no more, and promptly turned rapidly around and made my way back to the kitchen, spilling a little in the process. (more…)

Are the kids alright?

August 24, 2010

Lazy, good for nothing time wasters.  No, this isn’t a deserved rant against the England football team, it is paraphrasing the message delivered recently which discussed the productivity of local authority workers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11034769)

To quote directly:  “Junior staff in local authorities are, on average, productive only 32% of the time during working hours.”  It said this compares with an average of 44% in the private sector, the argument being therefore that we could shed 500,000 jobs and see no difference in service delivery.

(more…)

Be a Time Killer Queen

August 19, 2010

Open plan offices are wonderful things.  They encourage people to interact with each other, make us stick to our clear desk and hot desk policies and force us to stay off some more interesting corners of the internet.

What they also do is allow us to become a team of office curtain twitchers, keeping a corner of an eye on what people are doing or looking at.

It’s this ability which recently drew my attention to a colleague.  He was sitting opposite his line manager, so his screen couldn’t be seen by them.  What he didn’t know however was that I was making use of the aforementioned hot desking policy, and was sitting a few desks behind him.  This allowed me to observe as he spent at least ten to fifteen minutes looking intently at his screen whilst opening and then closing folders and files.  He didn’t read them, he didn’t organise them; he spent that long just opening and closing them.

We can all waste time on occasion, and sometimes it’s really valuable to take a break and think about something different (which is where our excellent list of reasons that you know you’ve been in local government too long came from).  Here are some of my favourite ways that I’ve seen local authority staff waste time. (more…)