FOI: accessing frustration

Freedom of information systems remain mired in cultural, technical and financial delays

By John Devine
(This story was written for The Publisher, industry publication for Newspapers Canada)

Accessing information from governments across Canada is generally a frustrating experience, with antiquated rules, structure and an official mindset and culture that combines to impede the flow of information.
That’s the blunt assessment of the author of the latest Freedom of Information audit, commissioned by Newspapers Canada.
“Even those who are professionally using it, in terms of journalists and academics, find this a frustrating system to use,” said Fred Valance-Jones, assistant professor of journalism, University of Kings College, Halifax.
“If it’s frustrating for them it must be extremely frustrating for citizens who want to use it to hold their governments accountable. The system drastically needs to be updated.”
The audit highlights the obstacles in the path of the free flow of information, and the difficulty experienced by those trying to gain access, said John Hinds, CEO, Newspapers Canada.

• Read the full story in The Publisher

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