This is our truth, tell us yours
Stories about pop up brothels have been around for a while. They’re a staple of the modern breed of lazy journalist who sits in the office pretending that sending off FoI requests is data mining when it’s really something more like scavenging scrap from a rubbish heap.
The beauty of the FoI fuelled story is that it doesn’t actually involve any work other than emailing the relevant public authority and typing up a story that fits the stats. The police, in turn, use their narrative of people trafficking and exploitation to shut down or reduce the space for legitimate sex workers going on tour.
Don’t believe me? Here’s another example of data scavenging as journalism. Notice how the data is gathered centrally, recycled locally, and casually twisted to suit the narrative of danger from cyclists. Never mind the realities, the story is happily recycled.
Challenging fake news may make sense, but journalists need to challenge themselves and ask if data scavenging is really the future of their trade.