Guardian: Data: Information is power

"Starting this week, Downing Street is to make a series of announcements that could give journalists access to public data from all corners of local and national government, and revolutionise the way they work. ... Of all the datasets that will be released, possibly the most significant is something called the Combined Online Information System (Coins). This is basically a list of everything spent at every level of government in the UK."

Guardian: Theyworkforyou refutes Telegraph ‘sacking’ claim re civil servant – so where’s the text?

"[The] Telegraph is saying that someone wrote som's the text? | Technology | on a site. Except the something that is written doesn't appear on the site, and can't be found anywhere else. That's extremely odd by anyone's standards. Of course it could have all been made so much easier if the Telegraph had included a link in its physical and web story to the offending comment. But it didn't ..."

Online Journalism Blog: The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information

Alex Lockwood: "The problem for existing traditional newspapers is that it is not part of their business model to innovate ways for local people to engage directly with the democratic process. ... Other (and often better) ways to access information within local communities, including news and issues of local democracy, already exist. It was not a local newspaper that developed" mySociety turns five today – how can journalists best use its sites?

Francis Irving on what MySociety might do next: "Everything from a TheyWorkForYou for local government, to working out ways to turn more information from all our sites into news stories. We won't be finished until all parts of our government have well made IT, designed for and from the point of view of the ordinary citizen."

Sign both online petitions for Freedom of Information

More than 1.1m people have signed an petition against road tolls on the Downing Street e-petition site created by MySociety.

According to the Daily Mail, “one high-ranking member of the Government” believes whoever thought of this experiment in digital democracy was “a prat” for giving opponents of the Government a platform.

A leader in the Daily Express encourages readers to take a moment to sign other petitions on the Downing Street site. For once, I agree with “the world’s greatest newspaper”.

One Downing Street petition every journalist should sign is the one expressing opposition to the Government’s plans to amend the The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, which would make it far more difficult for journalists to use the Freedom of Information Act.

That petition was created by journalist Tom Griffin, who makes the case for signing it on his blog.

As we all know by now, the effect of the Government’s proposed changes would be to make the Freedom of Information Act far more difficult for journalists to use.

Time is also running out to express your support for the Press Gazette petition on the same subject:

We, the undersigned, urge the Government not to undermine the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 by passing into law the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2007.

According to the Government’s own independent review, the proposed changes will result in more than 17,000 FoI questions a year being rejected by local, regional and national public bodies on purely financial grounds, irrespective of the public interest.

We are particularly concerned that the rule changes will, according to the independent review, have a disproportionate effect on journalists and therefore undermine the vital role they play in British democracy.

We’re not as high-tech (yet) — to support this, e-mail with your name, job title and the organization you work for.