Public bodies are increasingly demanding dosh from media making Official Information Act requests. We want your money, too.
OIA! That’s the anguished sound of journalists across the country receiving responses to requests under the Official Information Act that go something like “Dreadfully sorry, O Intrepid Seeker of the Truth but we can’t provide the information unless you send us this eye-watering sum of money, toodle-pip, kissy wissy.”
Apparently emboldened by a review of the OIA which reminded government departments and others covered by the Act that media need not be exempt from charges for costs of collecting information, such demands are on the rise. The Reserve Bank has confirmed to Fairfax it’s now their standard policy.
Meanwhile freelance Jess McAllen this week shared a District Health Board’s impeccably good-faith response to an OIA request:
At a time when a journalist has to lobby hard for expense sign-off on a bus fare to Hamilton, such cash demands read like a sea of middle fingers.
Here at the Spinoff, however, we are always looking for innovation in business models, revenue streams, business streams and revenue models. Though we are obviously not subject to the OIA, we are keen to monetise every bastard thing, and we are also intemperate, easily bored, and sick of answering simple questions.
In that spirit, we welcome all requests for information, on the basis that you fork out according to the rate card below.
The Spinoff Official Information Rate Card 2016, v1.0
$50 per half hour
For time spent filling out forms for IRD or Immigration or whatever.
$120 per hour
For time researching replies to complaints about factual errors in copy. Ten per cent discount if the complainant is right.
$80 per hour
Responding to inquiries from public relations practitioners.
$8 per hour
Responding to inquiries from public relations practitioners offering some really sweet free stuff.
$800 per hour
Responding to inquires from public relations practitioners who express an interest in “reaching out”.
$72 per 12 minute unit
Fielding calls from, or even just thinking about, government communications officials.
Answer to fleeting inquiry on wellbeing, eg “How are you?”
2 free monthly; thereafter $50 each
Answer to request from a partner, spouse or flatmate on domestic matters.
Crumbed fillet and scoop of chips.
$100 per sentence
Response to online comment inquiring eg “Did you get paid to write this?” or “Is this meant to be funny?”
1 x packet Squiggle Top biscuits
Acknowledgement of pitch from freelance contributor.
$1200 per quarter hour
Responding to inquiry from government body for clarification of request under the Official Information Act.