Posted tagged ‘request’

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!

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.

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