A culture of official secrecy is entrenched throughout Britain’s public services, claim regional newspaper editors.
According to the initial findings of a survey carried out by the
Newspaper Society, official bodies routinely use data protection as an
excuse to withhold information and hide behind press officers.
Courts make unnecessary reporting restrictions and there is
scepticism about the ability of public authorities to comply with the
Freedom of Information Act when it comes into force next year. Editors
have also reported secrecy issues surrounding new-style council
Mike Glover, editor of the Westmorland Gazette, said: “The culture of secrecy and anonymity is rampant.
The real problem for the media is that the public at large is sympathetic with this tide.
“All the debate is driven by high-profile national examples of
intrusion. The public at large doesn’t understand the impact that
secrecy and privacy have on their community newspapers.”
The Newspaper Society press freedom survey concludes on May 9. The full findings are expected to be released later in the year.