How much does the Essex Chronicle cost the Essex taxpayer?
The Essex Chronicle has a history of digging deep into the goings on in and around Chelmsford.
As they are the main local paper (with a respectable nod here to the Weekly News), they try and get local scoops. A lot of the stories tend to revolved around Essex County Council and Chelmsford City Council, as you’d expect.
But what is the cost to the ordinary Joe Blogger for the Chronicle’s continued digging for new stories? What I mean by that is that the information has to be gained from somewhere, and thanks to the Freedom of Information Act newspapers (and individuals) have access to a lot more information.
I put a throwaway comment on Twitter:
“Under the Freedom of Information Act I’d like to know how much it costs @Essex_CC to reply to the Chronicle.”
Essex County Council contacted me for my email address and said that they’d get the information to me.
A few weeks later and an email appeared in my inbox from David Humphreys who, according to the email, is part of the “IS Records Manager Informatio n Management” team. His response was sketchy in detail, stating simply “The time taken to gather the information requested by the Chronicle was 16 hours, which at an average cost of £25 per hour cost £400 in total.”
A couple of things stand out for me here. Firstly, is that for just one story, or is that the cost of a years worth of enquiries? Secondly, how is the cost of £25 per hour worked out? Does that mean that there is (effectively) someone paid £25 per hour to look into Freedom of Information Requests for Essex County Council?
Maybe it’s something that the Chronicle can look in to for us.