Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM: Journalism, Government and the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Jeremy Hayes of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ and a recent BBC fellow at the Reuters Institute presents a progress report on the Freedom of Information Act.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 has changed journalism in Britain. Four years after it was introduced the flow of news stories relying in whole or in part on information gained through a request to a government department, agency or statutory body has become continual.

Although government ministers insist that the Act was not created for the benefit of journalism, there is no doubt that for a number of journalists the Act has altered the way they work and their expectation about the information they can gather through it.

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the way in which the Act is being applied by officials and the uses to which it is being put by journalists. I have carried this out at a time when the stakes over the future definition of public interest as it applies to FOI have never been higher. 2009 may prove to be a decisive year for the Act through the rulings of the Information Tribunal and the responses evoked in government, and as the scope of the Act as it applies to organisations working in the public sector, including central government, is redefined.
Download the paper here.

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