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Newspaper Crowdsources 700,000-Page Investigation of MP Expenses 188

Posted by timothy
from the would-like-to-see-this-for-the-us-federal-budget dept.
projector writes with an interesting project from the UK: "The Guardian are crowd-sourcing the investigation of 700,000 pages of UK MPs' expenses data. Readers are being invited to categorize each document, transcribe the handwritten expenses details into an online form and alert the newspaper if any claims merit further investigation. 'Some pages will be covering letters, or claim forms for office stationery. But somewhere in here is the receipt for a duck island. And who knows what else may turn up. If you find something which you think needs further attention, simply hit the button marked "investigate this!" and we'll take a closer look.'"
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Newspaper Crowdsources 700,000-Page Investigation of MP Expenses

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  • Power to the people! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rvw (755107) on Friday June 19, 2009 @04:52AM (#28386837)
    Do I need to say more?
  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:37AM (#28387065)
    I can honestly say I wouldn't. I became a civil servant because *gasp* I actually enjoy being of service to others. I heartily recommend it; the pay is decent and you get the Queen's birthday off.
  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:38AM (#28387067)

    I'm pretty sure that almost ANYONE in their shoes would have done the same

    Which is why we shouldn't be electing just anyone, but testing their ethics and wisdom etc. at least, or better yet, not electing representatives at all.

  • by siloko (1133863) on Friday June 19, 2009 @05:59AM (#28387173)

    . . . and the job of those who oversee and regulate these things is to prevent abuse

    Actually not. The office responsible for overseeing MP's expense claims actually saw it as their job to ensure that Members maximised their income within the stated rules. Most of what has happened happened under advice from the guards - they were guarding MP's interests not those of the taxpayer.

  • Re:Waste of time? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by niks42 (768188) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:09AM (#28387225)
    There are some cracking findings in there .. what amazes me is the complete switch in perception. Diane Abbott is almost a paragon of virtue because the only thing she does is to take the maximum allowance of £250 a month for her "petty cash". I had a look at Tim Yeo, wondered how anyone could spend £1200 in a month on a mobile phone bill on a regular basis. But then, he did spend £3000 on some shelving for his office, so maybe he has expensive tastes (at our expense). I looked at the MP for Gosport, failed to find reference to Duck Island, instead found he (sorry, we taxpayers) had paid for the local conservative association to refurbish the offices that he subsequently rented from them. And it costs him £19,000 a year to maintain their garden, to which we contribute.
  • by SquirrelsUnite (1179759) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:29AM (#28387347)

    But I'm pretty sure that almost ANYONE in their shoes would have done the same...it's called the human condition. You are given the power to abuse something and you think nobody will notice....so you do. Flame away but i probably would have.

    I doubt almost everybody, but yeah a lot of people would. Which just makes it even more important not to let them get away with it. So that you and everybody else will think twice in the same situation.

  • by sqldr (838964) on Friday June 19, 2009 @06:59AM (#28387483)

    It works both ways. The British government and the American government simultaneously had meetings with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England 2 days ago.

    Obama came out with tough new regulations. Gordon Brown came saying one wishy washy thing, whilst the Bank of England didn't get the tougher regulations they were asking for, and now want to challenge the government in court.

    And as for the British press being cool, here's a quick rundown:

    The Sun: Trashy tabloid, most popular paper, tells thick people who to vote for. Banned in Liverpool after a controversial story suggesting Liverpool fans were responsible for the Hillsborough disaster

    The Mirror: Wishes it was the sun. Even more trashy.

    The Times: Owned by Murdoch, like the Sun, but seems to understand that its readerbase has brains, whilst trying to slip political opinion through without you noticing.

    The Independent: "independent", my arse. I used to read this. As much as I was against the Iraq war, I don't appreciate being lectured on it on a daily basis. They like preaching to the converted. People supposedly buy this one because it lacks opinion. The editor is best mates with the head of MI6. Also horrifically boring.

    The Daily Mail: Right wing christian crap, obsessed with house prices and Elizabeth Hurley. Encourages people who haven't even watched the show to complain to the BBC about someone saying something rude, and complain they do, in their thousands.

    The Guardian: They write this in a very small font, just so they can fit in the HUGE essays written by political activists who like to drone on and on and on about some green issue whilst everyone else has fallen asleep. You can read the entirety of the Sun in the time it takes to read the front page of the Guardian.

    The Telegraph: Like the Daily Mail, but with less readers. Also obsessed with Elizabeth Hurley. Source of the expenses scandal, which they've been milking for nearly 2 months now. Ok, the MPs did wrong, but they also have jobs to do, and all they've been doing for the past 2 months is apologise, resign, and shout at eachother.

    The People: Apparently still running. First UK paper to be printed in colour, but I haven't seen it on sale anywhere for years.

    Metro: Free newspaper found outside tube and train stations. Written by the same company as the daily mail, but with all the political bias taken out. Designed to be read in 20 minutes. Always has a stupid non-news story on page 3 about someone's pet cat climbing Everest or something. Letters page

    Various regional newspapers: "Local man bitten by local dog in local park". Win tickets to see Neasden FC playing this Saturday!!!

    Private Eye: Fortnightly paper. Reports on the newspapers themselves. Prints stuff that newspapers don't dare print from freelance journalists because of the potential implications. Editor is Ian Hislop who is "the most sued man in Britain". Very cynical, and often quite funny.

    So. The British press is shit.

  • by jabithew (1340853) on Friday June 19, 2009 @07:12AM (#28387569)

    No newspaper is a pillar of justice and righteousness. The Guardian may be closer to a pillar of hypocrisy [order-order.com] and leftiousness, but it does report actual news in an accurate and fairly even-handed manner. I tend to swing between the Guardian and the Telegraph depending on the front page, though I wouldn't sign up to the stance of either. I can stomach either as long as I avoid the editorials*.

    Having said that, the Guardian does employ Polly Toynbee, a typical champagne socialist [order-order.com], and a hypocrite to boot [youtube.com]**.

    In terms of size, the Guardian is the third biggest of what used to be called the broadsheets and you could consider as the real newspapers. The most popular is the Telegraph, but the Sun has ten times the readership at about 8million readers. The Guardian is on about 1/20th of that.

    *The Guardian; 'All these capitalists are stealing money from the workers by avoiding tax! This is evil! Unless we're doing it!'
    The Telegraph; 'The problem with young people is that too many of them are immigrants and none of them are whipped enough, what?'
    **Please don't misconstrue this as support of Littlejohn. A stopped clock is right twice a day etc etc.

  • by ammit (1485755) <fizzgiggy@googlemail.com> on Friday June 19, 2009 @07:18AM (#28387579)
    No I don't categorise it as flaming and I do agree to an extent with what you say. I'd rather that having not ever met me you would refrain from telling me which traits I do and do not possess. You can dress things up any way you wish but what SHOULD and DOES happen are seperate things, I'm not saying I would have claimed for a set of Chanel scatter cushions here, I'm just trying to be realist rather than idealist (as you seem to be). You are entirely right with what you say, but it simply does not and will not change the fact that this is reality, deal with it.
  • by owlnation (858981) on Friday June 19, 2009 @07:55AM (#28387801)

    It's one of the more reputable newspapers in Britain. Has a moderate left wing stance and a well educated readership.

    That depends on your political perception. It is registered as supporting the Labour Party. The same Labour Party that is doing the redacting here. Their "outrage" at the censorship, may just be spin. While there's been minor criticisms of the Government in the past, they are the Government's lone supportive voice in the media (other than much of the BBC).

    It's very likely that the crowd doing their sourcing, are Labour Party members, or supporters. I doubt very much anyone else reads the Guardian.

    On the other hand, they've been lagging so far behind the Telegraph for years in readership, and the Telegraph has completely owned the whole expenses debacle. So it may be that they are trying to look relevant and investigative, long after the fact. A save our skins attempt to generate sales.

    They are, of course, not the only news source looking at this, and it is important to have balance and all points of view in this. But trusting the Guardian solely with the truth would be very foolish indeed.

  • by cowbutt (21077) on Friday June 19, 2009 @09:21AM (#28388743) Journal
    I vote liberal and It's the only paper I generally read ( Okay sometimes the Independent...) I tend to vote Lib Dem/Green and prefer to read from a number of sources for my news (in the hope I'll get something like a balanced overall picture), and read well-argued opposing editorials for opinion (e.g. Telegraph). I'll dip into things like the Daily Mail and The Sun just to see what the mass opinion is likely to be.
  • by soliptic (665417) on Friday June 19, 2009 @11:36AM (#28390687) Journal

    It is registered as supporting the Labour Party.

    [Citation needed]

    The core purpose [gmgplc.co.uk] of the Trust that owns the paper is "To secure the financial and editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation"

    Labour Party members, or supporters. I doubt very much anyone else reads the Guardian

    Now you're just being ridiculous. It's a broadly leftist paper, yes, but Labour aren't the only leftists in town politically... in fact arguably they're not even leftist at all ;)

    So tbh I would say the contemporary stereotype of a Guardian reader would be closer to a Lib Dem or Green voter.

    they are the Government's lone supportive voice

    I doubt very much you read the Guardian, based on that claim. Pretty laughable considering how much criticism they have published over the years.

    Disclosure/disclaimer: yes, I read the Guardian often, and of the major papers I would say it's probably the best... but please don't assume I am a simple fanboy who trusts them soley with the truth. I frequently mix and match with other papers and of course other sources from other media.

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