Liverpool Daily uses public FOI site for scoop

Liverpool Daily Post used what do they know
Liverpool Daily Post used democracy site "what do they know" for this story

Update: Alison has a great post on her blog about this story with some insight in to what a big cultural shift this has been for some in the newsroom

Alison Gow has just dropped me a tweet pointing me to a story on the Liverpool Daily Post website about the numbers of council workers going off sick.

The information for the story came via a website called What do they Know which facilitates the submission of Freedom of information requests by the public.  What’s esspecially pleasing is that full credit is given to the site at the end of the article

How the figures were revealed

THE figures were released after a member of the public made a Freedom of Information request.

Stephen Gradwick used democracy website to submit the enquiry.

The original request, all letters and emails and the council’s response can be found at

Great stuff and I hope a lot more people pitch in to the site and the other great offerings from MySociety

On a personal note, I should say that I’m a bit peeved that Alison and the team have got a story from the site. I’ve been using What do they know in the training I’ve been doing with Trinity Mirror journos and now my secret weapon to wake people up as the afternoon session drags is out!

6 Replies to “Liverpool Daily uses public FOI site for scoop”

  1. Since we only found out about the site thanks to your top training session, Andy, maybe we should have given you a joint byline 🙂
    The site was an ace tip and I think it will also really drive the importance of linking for our newsroom team (after all, the more people who know about, the more potential stories we will hopefully start to find on it!)

  2. Strictly behind the scenes me. What's great is that this shows the value of a journalist in the process. Picking through the hundreds of requests and seeing the story not just the raw data and information. Then taking the time to make it all stack up. It's a great job.

  3. I'm amazed that this is newsworthy. Surely every single journalist worth their salt checks sites like I've certainly got several page leads from it.

  4. In reply to Paul's comment, I would argue that the assumption that every journalist worth their salt should be checking sites such as is on one level spot on, but on another level, wrong.

    I'm sure every journalist worth their salt is checking sites like – or similar sites – but they will all be placing different values on the worth of the sites they search. So some may write off after one go, others may hit the jackpot the first time and return again and again – as appears to be case with you.

    I suppose the question I should ask now is did you, Paul, say where you got the stories from? If you did, all credit to you. If not, why not, and I would ask the same question of all those other journalists who don't openly mention sites which have assisted with their research.

  5. I would say that it is worthy of comment because most of the media would not acknowledge the use of this kind of resource at all when, as Alison points out, there is value there for everyone.

    You say you've used it as a source of leads on several occasions. Did you credit the site as the source? If not then I think you're not being transparent and that isnt sustainable. Not crediting sources like this is a prime example of the 'lecture not conversation' attitude in the industry. Thats why the LDP piece is worthy of comment.

    Every journalist worth their salt may be checking sites like this. But it will be every journalist who understands the changes in relationships between journo and audience will be more transparent, like the LDP, who will be best set to benefit.

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