By Matt Abbott


Image courtesy of Paul Keller

David Simon, creator of The Wire and ex Baltimore Sun reporter said the following to a Senate hearing on the future of journalism and newspapers:

“The next 10 or 15 years in this country are going to be a halcyon era for state and local political corruption. It is going to be one of the great times to be a corrupt politician. I really envy them.”

Simon said this in 2009, as a warning to newspaper owners who, he says, showed ‘contempt for their product’. He went on to say that the industry needs “people who care what’s going on in the world” but rejected the notion that citizen journalists could play a key role in this solution.

Recently, the Centre for Investigative Journalism got together with the Centre for Community Journalism to empower community journalists with the tools they need to hold local government to account, and to prove that statements like Simon’s don’t have to be the norm.

At a two-day event at Cardiff University, The Centre for Investigative Journalism delivered workshops on freedom of information, online advanced investigation, and data journalism.

It is our belief that independent community media is an antidote to the democratic deficit created by traditional media outlets, the rise of the internet and the lack of trust in journalism.

By holding those to account, community publishers can plug this gap and address the issues that put journalism at most risk.

To this end, we are putting together a series on investigative journalism starting with this ‘Great Big List of FOI Ideas by Claire Miller, senior data journalist at Trinity Mirror.

If you’re looking for ideas about what to ask your local council, police force, university, NHS Trust, environment agency – anything that is a public organisation, then look no further.

Note: this list is set up from the point of view of how Welsh public bodies are organised, unitary authorities and single-level health boards, this is very different from England where you seem to insist on making everything twice as complicated, so check which layer of bureaucracy is responsible for whichever area you want information about before you send your request off.

Topics covered by the list:

1. Councils

2. Police

3. Ministry of Justice

4. Fire

5. Universities

6. Health Boards

7. Ambulance

8. Ministry of Defence

9. Health and Safety Executive

10. Bus Companies/Network Rail/Department of Transport

11. UK Border Agency

12. Royal Mail

13. Environment Agency

14. DVLA

15. DWP

16. Charities Commission

17. HMRC

18. Criminal Records Bureau

19. Government