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Freedom of Press Threatened by Bully Local Councils

Freedom of Press Threatened by Bully Local Councils

This week is Local Newspaper Week, and to ‘celebrate’, the Newspaper Society has released the results of its survey of local newspaper editors which shows starkly the attitude of local councils to press freedom.

More than a quarter, or 27%, of local newspapers have received a threat from a public body to suspend advertising as a result of journalistic activity – like an article they don’t like or even a reporter asking the wrong kind of question or merely attending a meeting.

Salford Council spends thousands of pounds advertising with the Salford Advertiser and Manchester Evening News, so the Salford Star attempted to ask the respective editors if their papers had ever been threatened, or if they tone down coverage to keep the Council advertising budget sweet. Read more

The Salford Star | 14th May 2013

IRELAND: Some public bodies failing on FOI requests

Some public bodies are failing to recognise that responding to Freedom of Information requests is a statutory function that should be afforded as much weight as any other work, Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly has said.

In her office’s annual report for 2012, Ms O’Reilly said some bodies were not providing staff cover when FOI officers were on leave and that in one case her office had been informed that an FOI unit would close for a month and was unable to process any enquiries.

“It is of significant concern to me if extensions become the norm, or default position, of public bodies in considering requests from my office,” she said in the report. Read more

Steven Carroll | The Irish Times | 14th May 2013

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