All 2 entries tagged Freedom Of Information

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February 28, 2007

The cost of democracy = £10m… So why won't the government pay it?

Freedom of InformationFreedom of Information is about as sexy as a soggy ham sandwich. And yet it’s really important, and under threat.

Since being introduced by the government in 2000, it’s allowed journalists and members of the public to access huge amounts of information which was secret before.

Examples include a league table of the UK’s worst polluting companies. Details of nuclear power plant faults in Britain. Lists of post office branches due to be closed. MPs travel expenses. Countless stories in local newspapers.

None of these stories would have become public knowledge if it wasn’t for FoI.

But the government thinks the £10m cost to public services of having to deal with Freedom of Information requests is too high. Which is another way of saying that it’s been too effective and the government are running scared. The Department for Constitutional Affairs proposes to make FoI more expensive and would see fewer requests complied with.

Everyone should care about this, and everyone should be complaining. £10m is nothing.

A series of Big Brother? £60m
Liverpool Football Club? £450m
Freedom of Information? £10m Priceless

November 05, 2006

Stats and FOIs

Iain Dale had 153,000 visitors to his blog in October. I’m not going to say how many I’ve had (as that’s just embarrassing vulgar), but my stats are surprisingly good.

If anyone doesn’t have a decent hit-counter on their blog, then get one. It’s fascinating to see which websites have linked to you, and who’s been referring the most people. I’ve learned about loads of websites I never knew existed just by seeing who had linked to my blog entries. So “Hi” to Adam and Counterspin and The Stage (yeah, I couldn’t work out why either) and Dave Sheffield and of course Google, all of whom sent me some visitors last month.

All I will say is that my other venture: Tetbury Online gets considerably less ‘hits’ than my blog does. Which is a bit weird.

I don’t want to suggest the blog’s been dumbed-down recently, but I am planning to take it upmarket with some original journalism in the next few months (and no, it’s not going to be about railway museums or WI meetings). There were a few moments, when I filed my first Freedom of Information request, when I thought I was probably wasting taxpayers money. But then I realised the job of a journalist is to cause trouble, and seeing as a streak in me has been doing that since the day I was born, I pressed “Send”. I’ll let you know what happens. And what the hell it’s about.

If anyone has an idea as to how I can cause some trouble (within the law, preferably) please do let me know in the Comments section.

P.S. Don’t let anyone tell you blogging is profitable. I’d be amazed if anyone (in Britain at least) could earn a living from it. You might notice the Amazon adverts in the sidebar have disappeared, as they’d earned me precisely £0.00 in the three months they’d been there. At best, you can only hope a newspaper might pay you to write something they’ve seen on your blog. And so far, no-one’s opened their wallet.

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