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The feral beast, Tony Blair and FOI

Martin Rosenbaum | 10:16 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2007

There's plenty I could say - some agreement, some disagreement - about Tony Blair's speech yesterday about the feral beast that is the modern media. But as this is a blog about FOI, I will limit it to freedom of information.

Blair mentioned FOI as one item in a list of measures he introduced which, he now thinks, did not deal with the central issue of how politics is reported (although FOI has of course much wider implications than just for political reporting).

But one of the things that I like about FOI-based journalism is precisely that it doesn't fall under many of the criticisms he made of other reporting.

Look at the stories the BBC has produced via freedom of information (and the same point would apply just as much to other parts of the media who have made much use of FOI).

They are based on facts. Not speculation. Not briefings or quotes from anonymous sources. Not analysis, interpretation or comment. (Although there's nothing wrong with all of these - in the right place at the right time).

They're about numbers, statistics, raw data, actual quotes from actual documents. It's clear what the source is and how we got it. And using FOI is not a herd-like but an individualistic activity - individual journalists extracting facts that the rest of the herd haven't thought to bother about.

That's not to say it's all perfect. It can still be partial, selective or presented out-of-context. But I think it's been good for reporting politics and other aspects of public life.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:41 PM on 13 Jun 2007,
  • Paul Dockree wrote:


Because I admire our Prime Minister so much, although I bought that scurrilous rag The Independent as usual I buried it quickly in my knapsack, like some young one buying his first top shelf magazine. I didn't want to be seen reading it with the resultant ridiculing from polite society. So I took it into my favourite park to read its biased contents. I feel so unclean. LOL

I didn't realise Mr Blair was in so much trouble - apart from the BBC and The Independent (no coincidences there then) he has the support of Max Clifford! Mr Clifford bleats his role has changed to protection recently. I bet he felt really guilty taking all that money for his hateful role!

I wrote over a year ago that we didn't all have Mr Clifford's telephone number on our speed dial. I obviously didn't feel the need for his brand of protection.

His support in this most odd of areas. You do not suppose? Grapes of the sour persuasion? Nah! I must be wrong - so no offence, Mr Clifford. LOL

Freedom of Information via the media is being attacked by our departing Prime Minister - for selfish reasons I suspect but we may see. I noted too he didn't attack any media deemed as supportive of him.

Yes, we just may see.

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