openDemocracyUK

A small victory for transparency: the House of Lords report on investigative journalism

The Lords' report on the future of investigative journalism takes note of Clare Sambrook's disturbing evidence on government mendacity.
Niki Seth-Smith
16 February 2012

While the Leveson Inquiry has been taking the spotlight, the Lords have been preparing a report on the future of investigative journalism.  Published today, it recommends changes to be made to the media industry and the law in order to secure the future of investigative journalism, at a time when the media landscape is shifting.

Our co-editor, Clare Sambrook, was one of the journalists called to give live evidence last October. In addition, she submitted a disturbing paper on official lying and how it harms our democracy, published here by the Lords, and on OurKingdom. Her argument: that systematic government mendacity is the greatest threat to journalism and our democracy.
The Communications Committee were always going to be resistant to this claim, and I saw for myself their dismayed expressions as Sambrook outlined the ongoing pattern of misrepresentation, distortion and denial by the government over the practice of child detention. But something clear and substantial got through to the report:

'We encourage the Government to lead by example in ensuring its press releases do not mislead and in particular, when data is made public, it is in forms which enable those capable of analysing it to do so, as advocated by the Open Data Institute.' (para 142). 

Not a key recommendation, but a win in the fight for openness and transparency in our dealings with the powers that be.

(There's also a very nice mention of openDemocracy's agility and global reach in para 227, with Magnus Nome's piece on the Norway massacre as an example.)

The full report can be downloaded here

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