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Debate to mark launch of '10 years of FoI' book

A debate marking the launch of a new book examining the Freedom of Information Act’s 10th anniversary will be held tomorrow.

The book, ‘FoI 10 years on: freedom fighting or lazy journalism?’, has been co-authored by Tom Felle, acting director of interactive and newspaper journalism at London’s City University, and former BBC producer John Mair.

The book examines the impact of FoI in the UK and further afield, with contributions from more than 30 journalists and academics.

The event, chaired by media commentator Roy Greenslade, will be held at the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, Northampton Square, London, from 6.30pm to 8pm.

Said Tom: “Ten years after the Freedom of Information Act was introduced in the UK, has it freed journalists to expose the dark secrets of our society, or has it just been an excuse for lazy journalism?

“Our new book explores the impact of the law on British journalism and on how government and news is reported.

“FoI was a welcome development internationally but many countries, including the UK, are rowing back on openness. And post Snowden governments are becoming ever more secretive.

“Around the world hard-won access to government secrets is being compromised by the ‘gaming’ of FoI. Wide increases in ‘national security’ exemptions, delays and denials on dubious grounds are frustrating legitimate investigations by journalists.

“On the other hand, many legislators complain that the act is being misused by the media for fishing expeditions and as a source for an easy headline. There is some merit in this complaint.”

The book is published by Abramis UK and is priced at £19.95.