We’ll be liveblogging from the BBC’s ‘Fusion Data Day’ from 10-3 today, embedded below and on Twitter @helpmeinvestig8
On Friday the BBC released documents from The Pollard Report into the Savile inquiry.
These were published as scanned PDFs, making it impossible to search text or count mentions of particular terms.
We’ve used document extraction service DocumentCloud to convert the two key documents – appendices 10 (statements) and 12 (emails and documents) – into text. These are linked below. If you use them, let us know so we can continue to do this.
Martin Rosenbaum is the BBC's Freedom of Information expert. As well as using FOI to find stories himself, he helps journalists across the organisation use the FOI Act to access information on public bodies. You can see examples of his work on his BBC page, and find him on Twitter @rosenbaum6. In this video he gives some tips on writing FOI requests, including being specific about dates and knowing which organisation holds the information you're looking for.
Now, more than ever, public organisations are trying to make themselves just that: public.
“The genie cannot be put back into the bottle, however hard authorities try,” writes John Kampfner in today’s Media Guardian. “The information relationship has shifted, but the power relationship has not. The Democracy recession is gathering pace.”
The general public now have a thirst for that most gritty and honest of information and journalists more than ever are gaining access to it.
This means that everyone is becoming more wary of the way in which both public and private organisations handle, store and release information for public consumption and record.
This is why we are mentioning onebillionpageviews: the anti-license fee website have offered a single download that allows access to all the Freedom of Information requests that the BBC received (and hosted on their site) before 2008, which were later removed.
First of all, it is shocking that whilst everyone is so tuned in to the way in which public organisations handle data that the BBC would simply remove a huge cache of data from their site.
Secondly, for the BBC to do anything this brave and seemingly careless with their data when websites like NoTVLicenseFee are willing to keep that store of data available for the foreseeable future seems counter to their nature as a ‘public’ organisation.
They have also chosen to host every freedom of information request that the BBC received since the big removal and any more that arise in the future.
It’s great that a site like this wants to hold organisations to account and make sure that data is readily available amongst the rise in public curiosity into how their money is being spent, but it is also important that massive organisations like the BBC are careful to not be caught in the crossfire that grows out of the “democracy recession”.