Free Schools: a blogger’s determined investigation
On the educational merits and demerits of Free Schools I don’t have an informed view. But I have been following the campaigning journalism of James Hargrave on his blog as he slowly unpicks details which have been hidden from public view.
I have been following his sustained series of stories as he slowly unpicks details which have been hidden from public view.
As a journalist I do have a view on this. Making public information that someone wants to hide is journalism. One of the definitions of news is, something that someone does not want printed or broadcast.
As we have seen the Guardian’s phone hacking stories, it is determined and sustained investigative reporting that gets results that are very much in the public interest. As stones are turned-over there are always surprises.
This week Hargrave is starting a series of posts about what he has learned from 1,400 pages of papers released to him by Suffolk County Council as the result of Freedom on Information request.
We learn today from him about the Ixworth Free School proposal where proposers talked to education secretary Michael Gove but did not share everything with the local education authority.
This fills in a gap in out understanding and, as Hargrave comments:
Sadly the politicians involved appear to prefer to make all these decisions in private and we only get to find out about them after through freedom of information requests after the event…
Representative democracy seems to be falling into the gap between Whitehall which is directly financing more and more schools and a county hall that is increasingly powerless. Finding the evidence is what journalism should be about.
While national newspapers and broadcasters still have the resources for sustained investigative reporting, in the provinces the job is increasingly falling on bloggers, like Hargrave.
Later: The continuing investigative work of bloggers in Barnet is impressive. Mr Mustard reveals today that a council employee who took early retirement in 2008 is still employed as a consultant with the money paid into his limited company.