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Monday, March 16, 2009

Media FOI moves.

No " What they Won't Tell You" column by Matthew Moore (left) in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald for the second week in a row- perhaps an unfortunate casualty of his appointment as Urban Affairs Editor in addition to his FOI Editor job. The weekly column has been a must read since inception three years ago and has provided a unique angle on what goes in FOI land.If it has been spiked, it will be missed by many, although governments in Canberra and Sydney probably won't mind.

Changes too at Sydney's Daily Telegraph with the departure of Investigations Editor, Kelvin Bissett (right), a prolific FOI user who used the Act very effectively to dig into NSW state and local government doings over the last five years.Before public servants everywhere take too big a sigh of relief, Bissett has joined the Nine Television Network, so you haven't heard the last of him.

Despite the continuing shortcomings in our FOI regimes, FOI use has been mainstreamed in many media organisations and use by journalists covering all sorts of beats has risen significantly in recent years. However as we all know, expertise in this complex overly legalistic subject is hard to acquire and retain and pretty necessary if you take on a government agency. The Tele will miss Bissett's years of experience and Moore's new responsibilities may mean less time on FOI related work.I'm not sure how and where journalists pick up knowledge in this area but it may say something that one recently asked me where to find FOI for Dummies.

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