Finally and act on a journalists side. The Freedom of Information act allows everyone the right to access infomation in the public sector from main and minor bodies, these are
- The Government
- The House of Commons
- The armed forces
- University's, schools,
- Police, etc
A Journalist can literally think of a story they want to investigate, for example how much compensation have schools across the UK had to pay out. A journalist can then write to the public authority to request certain information. However they can charge you a fee for this, up to £100. They could also refuse to give information that is too expensive to gather. The public authority must reply within 20 working days with the information or explaining why it couldn't be supplied. Therefore the simpler the question is the more chance of you receiving the data. If you haven't been able to receive the information you required you can appeal to the Information Commissioner.
Matthew Davis is an investigative freelance Journalist who has given some good tips on Freedom of Information and how to easily gain information.
Yesterday in The Guardian there was a story on how schools are taking lower numbers of deprived pupils, shown by data. This is a good example of how a journalist has used the freedom of information act to create a story that may in of public interest.