How digging up expense reports led a journalist to clobber British govt

GlennF sez,

I came across this interesting profile of Heather Brooke, the UK-based reporter who tried to get Parliament to release expense records by using UK disclosure laws, and whose efforts clearly led to the leak that the Daily Telegraph got.

Brooke started her journalism career in Seattle at the University of Washington, and learned via a newspaper internship from an old-school editor how to dig up public records--expense records, in particular.

The profile is fascinating because it shows one of the key functions of newspapers and similar periodicals that's been ignored as the quality of such publications has dropped: investigation, and management that supports investigation.

We've been lucky in Seattle that both local papers (one remains in print, the other online only) were long interested in funding very long-form, very long-running investigations. Who will fund this kind of reporting in the future? What editor will teach a future Heather Brooke to dig behind the public statements and facile information at hand?

This isn't a tirade in defense of dinosaurs. Rather, I legitimately wonder where the funding comes that allows reporters to devote the time. Hyperlocal news is great, and so is citizen journalism. But Brooke spent five years (and was scooped in the end) on digging out these expense reports.

Former UW student shakes up British government

(Thanks, Glenn!)