FOI, Blogging and My Sanity

FOI Man recommends a number of FOI blogs that you might be interested in and bids you all adieu…for now

Blogging about FOI in the UK is becoming much more common now. The first FOI blog that I read (indeed the first blog I ever read) was the brilliant UK Freedom of Information Blog originally written by Steve Wood, who at the time was an academic at Liverpool John Moores University. It was essential reading and my main source of information when I was first getting to grips with the Act. I have to admit to a degree of disappointment when he was poached by the Information Commissioner (to become the ICO’s Head of Policy) and could no longer keep up the blog. The Campaign for Freedom of Information took over Steve’s blog and it is still a useful one to follow even if it’s not quite as essential as it was back in the early years of FOI.

The next blog that I started to follow religiously was Martin Rosenbaum’s Open Secrets for the BBC (it’s no longer called that, but it’s still great). Martin’s always knowledgeable and interesting, and for a while was the best insight I had into how journalists viewed FOI. Heather Brooke was also, of course, blogging at the time, but whilst I admire her tenacity, I’ve always found her approach a little negative for my tastes (we’re not all establishment conspirators, honest). But that’s just a personal opinion, and many really enjoy her writing.

Whilst I’m talking about journalists who blog about FOI, I’ve got to mention the fabulous David Higgerson. A more recent discovery, David blogs weekly on the best news stories (usually in the local press) resulting from FOI requests, and regularly blogs on the use of FOI by journalists. I don’t always agree with his view – in fact on more than one occasion David has provoked a fiery post from me on this blog – but he’s always interesting and appears genuinely interested himself to engage with FOI Officers and others to better understand how FOI works behind the scenes.

If you want a more academic perspective, the Constitution Unit provides a monthly update on FOI. For the latest case law, you can’t beat 11kbw’s Panopticon – the writers have often been personally involved in the cases they report on. And ActNow Training, especially the entertaining Ibrahim Hasan, still provides regular podcasts on the latest FOI developments.

More recently, my blog here has been joined by a number of other blogs by others with an insider’s perspective. Which is great! I started this blog because I felt there was nobody writing about what it was like to make FOI work in practice. So it’s fantastic to see Jonathan Baines who works for a local authority; Tim Turner, who is now a consultant, but has worked for the ICO and a local authority; and Kit Good, a university FOI and Records Manager, joining me to write about FOI amongst their other interests.

Aside from the fact that I thought you might be interested in these blogs if you’re not already aware of them, I have another reason for writing this post. Regular readers, and especially Twitter followers, may recall me referring to Mrs FOIMan. Well, I may have misled you a tad, as she isn’t really Mrs FOIMan – currently. But in the next month I’m putting that right and also moving house. So I’m rather afraid that the only way for me to retain my sanity is to take a break from the blog for the next month. In the meantime I hope you’ll find much of interest at the sites above and I will return, refreshed, (married), and eager to write, in a month’s time. I’m sure I’ll still post from time-to-time on Twitter but I’m sure you’ll understand if I’m a little quieter than usual over the coming weeks. Thanks as ever for your interest and support and I look forward to rejoining you in the very near future.

2 comments

  1. Paul Francis says:

    David Higgerson is an excellent read, especially for journalists looking for FOI ideas. Although maybe you’d rather we didn’t get ideas!

    Best of luck with the domestics.

  2. Best of luck on your pending nuptials. Come back soon.