NATIONAL newspapers have warned that the "punitive" cost of making requests for state files under Freedom of Information legislation is putting people off.
They also called for commercial semi-state bodies and other agencies, including Irish Water and the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, to come under the terms of new legislation.
The National Newspapers of Ireland told a Dail committee the cost of submitting requests should be dropped where an issue is of public interest.
It said an upfront €15 fee should be removed, and review and appeal fees should be refunded when a request for information is released in the public interest.
The newspapers' umbrella body said there was no consistency in costs. One department might reply for free, while another would charge hundreds of euro.
In one case, a journalist said the Department of Justice attempted to charge €5,116 for a "simple FoI".
The standard rate for extra search and retrieval fees is €20.95 per hour, with 50pc payable upfront.
Journalists also voiced concern about the exceptions made to releasing information, and said these should be "clear and narrowly" defined, and subject to strict public interest tests.
They also asked that the wide range of exemptions for new bodies, including NAMA, be reconsidered.
Liam Twomey, of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, welcomed contributions by journalists Dearbhail McDonald of the Irish Independent and Carl O'Brien of 'The Irish Times'.
He said they gave the committee "much food for thought" in shaping the legislation.
The Fine Gael deputy welcomed their six-point plan about the restrictive nature of submitting requests for information, including an alleged "culture of resistance".
The National Newspapers of Ireland represents 16 national and 25 local and regional newspapers.