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.