The requirement to respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act has been extended to the Housing Ombudsman, the Surveillance Camera Commission and several other bodies. See the full list of new entries here (scroll down a short way).
For information about all types of organisation subject to the act, click on the FoI wiki.
The National Union of Journalists chose Valentine’s Day to celebrate independent, ethical journalism, prompted by memories of a broadcasters’ strike in 1985 that prompted the BBC management to resist attempts to stop it broadcasting a Real Lives programme about Northern Ireland. Journalism academic Tony Harcup commented on the NUJ website about the importance of ethical journalism for society. Read more.
By January 2018, the number of journalists jailed in Turkey, mostly accused of spreading “terrorist propaganda”, had passed 150. Read more
As part of a billion-pound modernization of the court system, a panel was set up in January 2018 to help the media have better access to the courts: partly to counter a decline in court reporting. Proposals included training staff to understand the media’s needs. Read more
A newspaper failed to contact a woman’s ex-partner when she claimed he had harassed her and was subject to a court order, because it was concerned for her safety. IPSO found against the paper on grounds of accuracy, but not for breach of privacy. Note that the main interest here for journalism students in England and Wales is with the Editor’s Code – Northern Ireland has its own laws. Read more
Concerns were raised about efforts in Europe and the UK to tackle online hate and harassment, including by making social media platforms more transparent. As US writer Mathew Ingram reported in the Columbia Journalism Review, there was a risk of inhibiting free speech. Note that US law gives greater latitude on free speech, which is protected in the Constitution.
A House of Lords vote calling for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry to commence was denounced as an attempt to curb press freedom. The Lords also narrowly voted for an inquiry into media conduct in relation to data protection, with the threat of draconian penalties. House of Commons approval would be needed for either step to be taken. Read more from Press Gazette, and The Guardian.
‘Ping pong’ threat as government hits back on press freedom
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock criticized the Lords’ actions, saying they would be a “hammer blow” to local newspapers. But some peers threatened a ping-pong battle with the Commons if the two Houses disagreed, reported Press Gazette on 18 January 2018.
Note: this story was uploaded before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.