Criticising journalists is something I don't enter into lightly I'm becoming increasingly worried, however, by the way in which some Northern Echo journalists are going about their task.
There have been a spate of stories recently which have been been based on Freedom of Information requests made to the Council. The latest was on Saturday, when one reporter "revealed" that the Council spends £10k a year on the Mayor's car. This follows hard on the heels of similar "revelations" about the Council's car park income.
So why the concern? Well, any Echo reporter could simply ask the Council's Communication Unit for the figures and they'd be supplied. After all, the figures are in the public domain, and form part of the Council's budget which is scrutinised then passed every year. Clearly that wouldn't be too "sexy" so journalists have taken to getting the information via FOI requests. This gives the air that somehow the information is secret and has had to be dragged out of the Council.
I've written before about the conspiracy culture which affects some people in the town. This trend in journalism is helping feed it, I'm afraid (unintentionally, I'm sure). If information is refused, then the Echo would be quite right in submitting an FOI, and making a song-and-dance about the outcome.