Testing this FOI legislation

Posted: January 12, 2010 in Journalism, media convergence, media platforms, young journalists, online news, young journalists

When working for More4 News at ITN, freedom of information legislation provided me with many a scoop. It’s been criticised as a tool which is often overused by ‘lazy’ journalists, particularly when ‘phishing’ for information, often by using mass-emailing techniques to government bodies.

I’ve used this technique. It’s annoyed many a press officer, I am sure, and probably used up a fair bit of taxpayer’s money. But like phishing for bank details from unsuspecting/stupid email users, it works in the pursuit of uncovering government waste/ineptitude/wrongdoing.

Australia has had FOI legislation for years, and as a journalist trying to get a foot in somewhere – and low on contacts – I guess will use whatever tools I can to get a scoop… Let’s see how fruitful it is over here.

Getting noticed as a young freelance journalist without friends (or relatives) in high places does require hard, unpaid work. If you can give a kick-arse story on a plate to an editor or EP though, you’re half way there.

Do let me know if there’s anything I can FOI for as the basis of an investigation.  Lazy? Newspapers use that one all the time…not to mention ‘send us your videos’. Please.

  1. Celerific says:

    Long live the FoI!

    Have you caught the great UK site that collates subtmitted FoIs? It’s around 15% of all FoIs. Now that’s lazy journalism – reading other people’s FoIs.

    Surprising though just how many FoIs are submitted to find out a department’s postal address. Perhaps some frustration is justified…

    (PS. When I move back to Oz do you want to set up an Australian TheyWorkForYou? Maybe they’re franchising/open-sourcing…)

  2. billcode says:

    yes that site is decent as it compiles (email) addresses which are often hard to come by. apparently they are $30 a pop in NSW. the sods. definitely rules out mass-phishing!

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