Tuesday, 19 August 2014

News media and rail fares

The way you present facts affects peoples interpretations of the news.  Take the news that rail fares are rising.  Every year the news media loves this piece of news because it enables them to manipulate the way people feel about a piece of news.  season tickets are rising by 3.5 %.  Not good news we know but with investment and the lack of  subsidy from the government it's not that surprising.  Those who use the railways pay for them.  Now let's look at this news a different way.  From some simple research it shows that one of the most expensive tickets is from Dover Priory to London at £5012 a year. This is a journey of 76 miles.  That means 2 journeys a day for 5 days a week.  Simple maths brings this out at less than £10 a journey.  The BBC gave a season ticket example at £4000 a year which works out at less that £8 a journey.  Where I live a bus journey of 3 miles costs £5 a journey.  Season tickets seem good value to me. As usual the media presents the facts in such a way that make people simply look at the big figures for impact and not clarity.  Start doing your job properly news media and inform clearly what the situation is.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Privacy and the press

Who gave permission for the press to hire a helicopter and a long lens to peer into Cliff Richard's appartment?  When will this low life come to their senses and accept they are doing themselves no favours by infringing peoples privacy.  Lets all go and stick long lenses into their front rooms and see how they like it.  As for the police working with the press.  Long live Levison.  The Police and the Police Federation have a lot to answer for.  They are still refusing to cooperate about what happened at Downing Street and Andrew Mitchell. 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Media reporting on Scientific research

The number of times the media latches on to some spurious PHD research by a student who couldn't think of anything else to write and then puts it up as factual knowledge that we should all jump to (or at least those who are not so sceptical of the media do)  Take for instance the MMR vaccine scare where thousands of parents lept at this non proven research that stated that the MMR vaccine causees autism.  Now we have many more cases of Measles than we should have.  But I digress.  The latest thing is that a lack of Vitamin D has shown that people are more suceptable to Dementia,  I've listened to all the reports and not one has asked any searching questions of the  Professor who has published this.  Just taken the whole thing as fact. Let me ask a question.  How rigorous was this research?  How do we get Vitamin D?  Well most of us through sunlight and some through oily fish.  But mainly through sunlight.  Dementia is generally an illness of  the elderly.   One of the issues we have is that the elderly are often lonely and don't meet with people to the same extent as the rest of us. They don't go out much.  In other workds elderly patients may well have less Vit D. But couldnt the Demetia be due to the the fact that they are lonely?  They don't have meanigful conversation?  Their brains are not being made to stay active. My conclusion is therefore different.
Loneliness could be one of the causes of Dementia.  Loneliness also causes a lack of Vit D but is not necessarily a cause of Dementia.
Not one member of the News Media has questioned this academic about the rigour of the research.  Lets just put out a statement as if its fact is their answer.  I want News and Fact backed up by rigorous reporting.  We don't get either.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Media misrepresenting the facts again -Liberal Party

The Today Programme along with other news broadcasters have been reporting that the Liberal Party have gone back on their support for the Conservatives Party Bedroom supplement.  This is when people living in social housing are required to pay extra if they have a bedroom which is not compatible with the number of people living permanently at the address.  This makes the property available for those families living in cramped accommodation. The issue is that people are being expected to pay the levy even when their are no smaller properties for them to move into.  Unfair I hear you say.  And indeed it is.  The Liberal Party, as part of the coalition government has stood up and said the same.  They agreed with the levy but say that if there is no suitable property for the family or person to move to then they should not be charged.  The media reads this another way.  THE LIBERAL PARTY HAVE GONE BACK ON THEIR DECISION ABOUT THE BEDROOM SUPPLEMENT.  No they haven't. After seeing it working they feel there are some improvements that can be made.  The Labour Party of course are backing the Media view.  Not looking for an honest report of what has been said.  The function of the News Media is to report the news accurately not as they interpret it.  Why can't politicians change their minds when they see something isn't working without being ridiculed for it?  The rest of us do.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Rebekah Brooks

The phone hacking trial has finished with one found guilty and Rebekah Brooks and her husband getting off free.  Already the press is starting to rally around the view that they have been vindicated. How badly done to they have been treated. NOT. It was great to see Brooks getting the sort of treatment other people get from the press and paparazzi. She was shaking like a leaf and that smirk as she got into her car said it all.  This woman was an editor in charge of a news paper that broke the law.  How many times has she reported that the buck stops at the boss.  Any good boss knows what is happening in their business so either she is a crap boss or she knew exactly what was going on.  Or think the latter.  This woman could fall in a sewer and come out smelling of roses.  I'm sure Murdock will be preparing a well paid job for her.  Let's just hope there is a corporate case to answer now and that weasel Rupert Murdock and his son get what's coming to them. Non of this or the Leveson enquiry is stopping the press doing what it is doing in terms if investigative journalism.  What it is doing is trying to put a stop to the press investigating the seedy side of people's lives which are not illegal.  Sign the Hacked Off petition and let's get the free press working properly.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Middle Class is best

Staying on the education theme. A report states that white male working class students under achieve compared to those from other countries.  65% of male Asian  students from the same poor backgrounds achieve 5 A* to C grades at Gcse compared to 28% white working class boys? There have been lots of platitudes stated about how tough it is for them with no role models well whose faults that? Parents? Gone are the days when working class people aspired to be Middle Class.  Now they just shout insults at the Middle classes wanting to wallow in their own lack of ambition.  No ambition then no encouragement for their children to do well.  One commentator even had the cheek to say that all working class parents wanted their children's to do well at school.  I'm sure that is true but wanting them to do well and giving up some time to help them do well is another matter.  Many working class parents, and I'm talking about those who come into the group where pupils are underachieving, simply moan about the school and the teachers when in fact the problem lies with them but nobody is willing to tell them. Instead of parents wanting to improve themselves and move into the Middle class group they think that their lifestyle is as far as they should aspire to. That they wouldn't want to be Middle Class. Mainly because it's too difficult for them.  Bare in mind that Middle Class doesn't mean you earn a lot of money.  Many working class people earn more than Middle class couples.  The difference is what they do with their money. They save and prepare for the future while the people we are talking about spend it as it arrives.  Let's stop this fear of saying that Middle class is something to get rid off.  Middle class is something to aspire to and that's what these people lack. And no we can't get rid of all the classes and make everyone equal.  The world doesn't work that way whatever society you are in.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Local Authorities are the answer to schools

Not so long ago schools had Local Authority inspections as well as Advisors who helped those schools who needed support. That has all gone now. What we are left with is an assessment system (Oftsed) which acts as a big stick and no offer of support and help. How is a school supposed to improve when there is no local support for teachers and management. Whitehall cannot support schools all it can do is sack heads and governors and replace them instead of working with them. Bring back local advisors and inspections who know the schools and local situations so schools can be helped to grow and improve.  The Government seems to think all Local Authorities are left wing and no good.   How wrong can you be.  What they need to do is support Local Authorities and help them and by this means help schools. The  only way a school can get support is to pay for it now out of their tight budgets.  When the priority is not employing a new teacher or paying for an expensive consultant who knows little of the schools local situation I know if I was a Head teacher which I would pick

Thursday, 5 June 2014

General Election time.

As the General election approaches so the political parties are starting to gear up for their campaigns.  2015 will see us with a new government of whatever colour.  At the recent EU elections I was disgusted to see as little as a 30 % turn out by the public to vote.  Some argue the case that they don't vote because the political parties are all the same. Or it won't make any difference. First of all anyone who doesn't vote has no right to criticise any political party.  The main reason they don't vote is because they want the opportunity to complain about any party with out  being able to be accused of voting for them in the first place.  People don't like being made accountable.  There is the other reason of course - they're too dam lazy.
One of the other issues I have with election time is the now familiar TV debate which we have pinched from the Americans.  This is where each of the parties has their leader on a stage being asked questions and each leader has a right to reply.  What a load of TV nonsense this is.  In the past we looked at our political parties and just that.  A group of people representing a set of policies which had been created within the party.  The Americans have never voted in this way they vote for a president and TV is he best vehicle for presidents to show their personality.  In Britain we vote for a party and the individual MP's who represent the party and us.  Prime Minister personalities don't come into it at all.  I want to listen to policies not personalities.  The best orator wins not the best policies. Let's be brave and have some leaders say no to these debates.  They add nothing to our  understanding of a party and simply enable the Media to fill more air time with their useless speculation.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Mr Brock the Badger

Big issue with TB and Badgers here in the UK especially in the south of the country.  On the one hand are the farmers who have to deal with the loss of their cattle when TB is found in their animals and on the other the wildlife protectors who feel that slaughtering Badgers is no way to prevent the disease from spreading.  What we do know is that Badgers carry TB and so do cattle.  What we don't know is the best way to control the disease.  A badger cull, organised by the government, aims to control the number of badgers in an area so reducing the chances of cattle being infected.  These animals have been a protected species and their numbers have increased.  The argument from the wildlife protectors is that we should vaccinate cattle and/or badgers against the disease. Great idea except at the moment we don't have a viable vaccine. But wait, what is this about vaccination being the solution.  How on earth can you vaccinate badgers that are already infected with the disease? You can't. Vaccines don't work that way.  You have to be healthy so the vaccine can enable the body to make antibodies against the disease.  So I'm afraid that you have to kill badgers to get a healthy enough population for you to vaccinate.  In the meantime while vaccines are being developed surely it's a good idea to start doing this in preparation for the vaccine when it arrives. Sorry Mr Brock (Badger)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Supporting the people who need welfare

There is a definite issue with the social support we give out to old age pensioners. Free bus passes, free TV licences, winter fuel allowance and free prescriptions. Some pensioners fully deserve these because of their low incomes but some can afford it.  Why can a person living in a million pound house get free bus passes and prescriptions. How do you set up a system which supports those who need it yet doesn't also give those who don't need?  I fully understand that to Means Test everyone will probably cost more in administration than it  saves. So how do we do it? How about taxing these things? If people who are paying tax were taxed on these benefits, bus passes,prescriptions and winter fuel allowance,then it's a simple matter of altering a tax code so that those paying the most tax get no benefit from the social payment.  Those paying no or little tax will get the whole or part of the amount due to them.  No need to means test since the tax office knows a persons income and can easily alter the amount taken away.  Savings will become automatic then and those who deserve it will get it.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Does the media reflect society or vice versa?

What does our news media say about us as a society or maybe it's the news media which has helped to turn us into the society we are today.  Recently listening to the main news headlines I was amazed to hear that top of the news was the sacking of a football manager second came the terrible issues that are happening in the Ukraines and thirdly the tragic death of a young boy who had died of burns having set himself on fire.  How can any editor of a news programme come up with this order of news without feeling "I think I might have got that wrong."  Whenever media people are challenged about what they have done I have never heard a sincere apology from one of them.  Yes an apology but that's because they have been dragged kicking and screaming to the microphone not because of any genuine concern about their actions.  Everything  is a reflection of the society we exist in they say.  No I'm afraid it isn't.  That's the Tesco argument "we sell what people want" no you don't you sell what you offer because in my experience any request made is usually turned down due to lack of public demand  The News media report on what they think sells newspapers or increases viewing and listening figures. The media actually mould the society we exist in. They don't publish news but trash based around the tabloid press and in most terms cannot be considered to be news.  Oh one good thing the second news report put the Ukraine top but an overpaid football manager still beat the death of a burned boy to second place.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

What are parents responsible for?

The introduction of free school meals was instigated during the Second World War when times were really tough.  Following the war, while the country recovered from the ravages of war, the scheme was retained.  It now appears that the state needs to continue to feed our children while parents save their money for foreign holidays and other niceties. The latest plan in our primary schools is to provide free school meals for under 7 year old. Where does the responsibility of parents end and state take over?  I would have thought that a parents responsibility was to at least feed their offspring.  Now the state is expected to provide a meal for pupils in the middle of the day because the child may not get one at home. Some parents see this as a great opportunity to pass on their responsibilities to the state and get the rest of us to pay for it.  Schools are their to educate children. That includes social education as well as academic but it does not include teaching students how to eat with a knife and fork or what table manners are.  These should come from a home life that has families eating together and socialising together.  All we are doing is encouraging those lazy parents who shouldn't have had children in the first place to ignore their responsibilities and allow the rest of us to pick up the pieces.  Parents are quite capable of providing a packed lunch for their pupils and then providing a hot meal in the evening.  Yet again schools are expected to take on the role of loco parentis but without the backing of parents who see schools as cheap child minding facilities.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Snow shovelers needed

When are people going to accept responsibility their own communities.  This year is probably not the time to bring up one of my greatest gripes as we say goodbye to one of the mildest winters for many years.  When it snows it used to be expected that home owners cleared not only their own paths and drives to help postman (person) but also the pavement in front of their house.  Every year I make an effort to clear the pavement outside my own house to make it easier for people to get about.  All the people walking as I clear say "thankyou." I have written to the local press saying that instead of complaining that councils have not cleared areas, able bodied people should get of their lazy back sides and do the job for themselves and any elderly neighbours.  I hear the cry that "what happens if somebody slips and falls. I don't want to be sued."  Can I point out there has never been a case where a person has been sued for doing something that was done in the best interests of the majority.  There has never been a case where a judge has accepted a ruling of suing somebody for clearing their pavement of snow.  If they poured water on a path with the intention of it freezing so somebody would fall then that's another matter.  This is just an excuse by lazy members of the public who don't want to do anything for their own community and feel that councils have to do everything  for them.  Talk about a  Nanny State.  Maybe councils should eat and drink for us as well to save us all the effort.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BBC going commercial

Recently there has been talk of the Royal Charter for the BBC being up for renegotiation.  In other words will we in the UK continue to pay a television licence so that we can receive BBC radio and TV programmes.  At the moment it's a criminal offence if you do not pay and then watch BBC broadcasts but with the move to other technologies it's very difficult to stop people watching programmes across other media sources such as the Internet and not just a TV aerial.  One suggestion is of course to make BBC programmes like other commercial stations and include advertising.  Noel Edmunds, a TV presenter and commercial guru, is even offering to buy the BBC and run it as a commercial company.  If the decision to introduce adverts goes ahead then I for one will bemoan the day.  Having experienced American TV while living out there I can tell you that commercial TV leads to a dumbing down of all broadcasts.  Advertisers are only interested in large viewing figures and for that reason the channels become swamped with quiz shows and talent contest.  The niche programmes do not bring in large budget advertisers so say goodbye to the fantastic Arts and History programming that we have got used to in the BBC.  PBS (Public Broadcast Service) which is a donation channel in the United States, is popular with certain elements of the USA and from my memories shows large numbers of BBC programmes but because of its low income cannot produce any original broadcasting of its own or if it does it not of a BBC standard. The BBC needs to remain a licence based organisation so we are not forced to accept that low grade TV and radio is what the population is forced to watch.  How do we improve the intelligence of our population if all they are offered to watch is pap like X Factor and The Cube  As usual the easiest and cheapest answer is to bring everything down to a lower level instead of trying to raise the bar and improve the quality of things for everyone.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Maria Miller and the press

Maria Miller, culture secretary in the government, is accused of mismanaging her political expenses.  She has made a bit of a hash of the apology and also seems to have a bit of an attitude problem however the matter is being dealt with through the correct channels and for the majority of people the matter has been resolved.  Oh no I hear the media complain. Not to their satisfaction.  I wonder why? What a coincidence that as Culture Secretary she is part of the committee making decisions on the Leveson enquiry which is looking in detail at the management of our newspapers.  Legislation could be introduced to clip the wings of the low life we call journalists.  You may be a bit of a plonker Maria for mishandling this whole matter but it doesn't justify the press in carrying out a witch hunt.  Come on Leveson report do your worst with those disgusting tabloid and broadsheet journalists who see themselves above the law and unable to report the facts correctly because it sells more newspapers.
Post script 9th April 2014
Well she has resigned another victory from our obsessive press.  I sometimes wonder if we live in a true democracy when people I cannot vote out make decisions on my behalf and affect the government of our country

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Railways wrongly accused

A recent accident at a railway crossing highlights the dilemma of businesses and companies when
people get emotionally involved in situations.  A young teenager was killed by a tram near Nottingham.  She was crossing crossing the tram line with some. Friends when a tram hit her.  The crossing is clearly signed and the tram was travelling at the signed speed.  Her friends, who were with her, have no idea how she came to step out in front of the tram and of case the driver was very shaken when the accident occurred.  The media and parents of the girl have made it quite clear that they think the tram company is to blame.  Other accidents happen on the railways at similar types of crossing is the argument.  The tram company have been forts to spend thousands of pounds on a pedestrian bridge because this girl did not take care when crossing a dangerous tram line.  When are people going to take responsibility for their own actions?  Is it the function of the media to stop all accidents?  What a fruitless task that is.  The parents of the child are of course upset and angry so being able to involve the media makes them feel better even though what is published gives little opportunity for the tram company to state what I have above.  They will be seen as heartless if they do.  When companies are obviously. Negligent I someway then by all means make this information public and bring the culprits to justice but I this case the tram company were accused of something that another persons negligence was responsible for.   You only have to see the number of videos showing people trying to cross railway lines in cars, on foot and on bicycles trying to beat the on coming train because they can't wait. Many near misses I can tell you.  People who do this make a conscious decision to do so which results in the rest of us being inconvenienced by unnecessary bridges and blocked access.  Let's accept that people make mistakes and in this case the young teenager made a mistake and paid for it with her life.  No one else to blame for this so media look beyond the story and give all parties a chance to reply without being caught out in a media trap.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Lazy media. What happened to editing

How lazy can the TV and Radio get.   The number of times I see the same edited shot repeated again and again in a programme.  Any one would think we still shot documentaries on film and the cost prohibited the camera man taking enough shots to satisfy the editor.  One example is Tony Robinsons programme on Channel 4 "Walking though Britain." If I saw the man walking down  a road once I saw him walk the same road again and again.  Exactly the same tree and scenery all representing different parts of the programme.  Do editors and directors think the public are blind and will not notice.  It's sloppy TV.  Michael Buerk "Inside the National Trust" was another example.  If we saw the same shot of him in a Victorian kitchen baking something we saw him again and again with the same dialogue.  Let's recap on everything after a commercial break.  Yes it uses up another minute of programming but it doesn't half make the programme less interesting.
It's like editing on the radio.  Or do I mean lack of editing on the radio.  With a bit of care the flow of a package can be improved by some de-uming. I mean edit out all the "ums"  and "ers" And we could get 30 seconds more interview in without changing the story.  The cry goes out that you are affecting the way a person communicates and this is not truthful. The fact that the person can't communicate properly in the first place because they can't string two words together says a lot for the choice of interviewee.  Lets be kind and help them get their story across to us in an understandable way so we don't loose interest.  Isn't the role of the media to help people tell their story in an interesting way not to make them sound like morons.  And as for Robert Peston (Business Editor at the BBC) How that man got himself a job on BBC in front of the camera I will never know.  Must have friends in high places.  Give him a script and he's fine and in fact interesting but ask him a question he hasn't prepared an answer for and you might as well go and make a cup of tea since he'll still be trying to get an answer out when you have finished pouring it.  Get him back behind a desk instructing other more capable presenter on what to say. Wow! Quite a few issues there.  I'm sure I'll return to them again and again in the future.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Lazy road signs

Motorists really do get it in the neck when it comes to breaking the rules of the road.  How many times do councils and motorway authorities get it in the neck for doing things that make it possible for motorists to break the rules? Never!! The number of times I have been driving on motorways, through towns or country roads and been faced with a road sign warning me that something was up ahead that required me to slow down.  Then when you get to the spot there isn't anything there.  I'm talking about roadworks and warning signs on motorways.  Road narrows, temporary traffic lights ahead and when you get past the signs the traffic lights are either on the side of the road facing away or there aren't any their because the lazy road workers couldn't be bothered to take the signs down after their days work.  Motorway signs "Congestion Ahead" slow down.  Variable speed limit 50 mph.  Nothing in the road no congestion so why was I told to slow down? Maybe the brainless operators in the control centre hadn't got anything to do so thought they could play with the signs.  Fog signs when you are already in a pea souper. On one occasion I could hardly read the sign because it was so foggy.  No warning before hand however.  Miles of cones and nobody working on the affected part of the road.  No wonder people ignore road signs and then get into trouble. If only people would do their jobs properly in the first place that's all I ask.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A firemans lot is not a happy one.

A recent report in the media comments on the fact that a woman had called out the fire brigade to rescue her cockatoo from a tree outside her house.  The fire brigade attended and the matter was resolved without a problem.  The news media decided to focus on information they had put together that the the whole activity had cost £4000 and that this was a total waste.  How is it that money is the favourite weapon of the news media.  Can I ask how they came to this figure?  The only cost as far as I can see was the fuel for the fire engine and maybe wear and tear on the engine itself.  Certainly nothing like £4000.  Oh I hear the media cry what about the firemen's wages?  Can I ask what these firemen would have been doing if not called out?  We would have been paying them to play snooker and cards as well as drinking endless amounts of tea. What a set of con artists the media are?  Let's sensationalise a non story.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

BBC reporter Jon Kay gets it wrong again

Yet again BBC reporters get it wrong and it's the second occasion for this reporter, Jon Kay.   Reporting from the Somerset levels, which has been hit by serious flooding, Kay made  reference  to a proposal being put forward to protect the area from future flooding. The plan will cost around £100 million.  Whether this is money is well spent is another matter but more to the point Kay then made reference to the Prime Minster who at a previous visit had said that there would be no limit to the money needed to be spent to rescue the  people of the area from the present disaster. Kay decided to twist this comment to make better copy by saying the proposed plan would be a test of the Prime Minister as to whether he would honour the costs or not.  WRONG.  The PM had referred to the present crisis not to future protection.  Anyone only hearing this report would take it on face value.  The standards of journalism in this country go from bad to worse.  While on this matter reference has also been made to the £17 million supposedly cut from the environment agency and the adverse effect this will have on flood defences.  I refer readers to the fact that money has been cut from the police force and crime has actually gone down.  It's not the money that makes the only difference it's the people working in these agencies and if by cutting funding the agency works more efficiently then bring it on.  Funny how the complaints about cuts to the police force budgets have gone quiet now the evidence is in.  Nothing being shouted from the media on that

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The Press are called to account

The trial of Rebekah Brooke's, the News of the World editor, continues.  The story has been rolling on for months and how nice it is to see these people get a taste of their own medicine when they come out of court. The Paparazzi  hound them as they make there way to their cars.  I wonder how they feel now about the way they have encouraged these animals to try and get that one picture that will sell a few more papers.  One of the main defence arguments appears to be that Rebekah Brooke's knew nothing of the phone hacking that was going on in the name of her paper.  Do I hear this correctly? She even has the audacity to say she didn't know phone hacking was illegal? Is this woman real?  She was running one of the largest newspapers in Britain (thankfully the paper is no more) and says she doesn't know the legal issues surrounding the acquisition of information.  How many times have I heard publishers of newspaper say that no matter what goes wrong in a business the buck stops at the top.  The Managing Director should resign we hear because he or she failed to monitor what was going on.  Maybe we could save a lot of money on this trial by simply stopping it now.  As far as I'm concerned Rebekah Brooks has admitted her guilt in this matter by being totally unaware of the things she is responsible for.   These vile tabloids have got to be taught a lesson and the sooner Ms Brooke's realises she is not immune to the legal processes the rest of us have to abide by the better.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Medical research and it's publication

When will the media stop frightening the public or giving false hope to people.  Just because a piece of research is published in a specialist periodical does not mean it is correct.  Research is simply one small part of a process which may and I repeat may lead to a breakthrough in some  area or other.  Medical research is constantly producing results which the media seems to feel are appropriate to fill a few column inches or add a view minutes to the news when they are stuck for a story.  The one example I would draw attention to was the scandal over the   MMR vaccine.  This research produced by the discredited Andrew Wakefield was published for peer review and before any confirmation could be carried out the press were on it like bees to a honey pot. Unfortunately the results of this were not as harmless as bees eating at a honeypot.  People stopped getting their children vaccinated because of this mans discredited research.  It is still having repercussions and now he has scuttled off to the USA where he continues to peddle his insane ideas.  The press accepted no responsibility for this. They were the ones that did not check the facts before publishing and instead produced banner headlines saying the MMR vaccine caused autism. Areas of Wales and many parts of the rest of the country suffered badly with measles outbreaks.  I thought the mainstay of good journalism was to check your facts before publishing.  Now it seems publish and be damned.  Oh I forgot we have to sell newspapers and sensationalism sells papers

Monday, 24 February 2014

Useless surveys

In addition to getting rid of Vox pops we should also question the value of surveys carried out by the media.  How often do we see the results being used as the means of providing an opinion when the differences between either side is sometimes only 2 or 3 percent. Even a difference of 10 percent results in arguments being laid down for one thing or another.  Recently the Sunday Times carried out a survey on flooding and asked the "sample" (What ever that is made up of) if they thought villages at risk of flooding should be protected.40% of people said don't protect these places at risk.  What on earth is this supposed to mean?  Who were these people who were asked? Did they live on a hill? Was there a 50 percent survey of those in these areas or who know someone who lives in these areas?  Does that make them biased.  No survey is completely random and as I have said before all the opinions voiced by the public are of very little national use because of how the question is asked and who is asked.  Controversy and selling papers is all the news paper is interested in.  Interesting how the flood situation has now completely disappeared from our papers and TV's.  Everybody must be fine now down in Somerset. NOT

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Plebgate - The newspaper view

This weeks Sunday Times addresses the issue of the public perception of the police and the fact that the police federation representatives are up before MP's to explain why they lied to them last time.  Lets hope justice prevails.  The article below lays out the issues much more clearly than I can.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Vox Pops

It's about time that Vox Pops (those random interviews with members of the public who think themselves experts) were banned.  What use is it asking a person who is not statistically random their opinion on something which they are either totally ignorant of or thinks they are the worlds expert on.  Most have created an opinion from either a newspaper (whose reporting is likely to biased) or by listening to someone else's opinion.  It is very unlikely that this person has been faced with all the facts and then been allowed to make their own judgment.  The general public are not the best source of information. When it comes to education all members of the public think themselves experts because they have all been to school.  Then there are those unthinking individuals who are given air time.  During the the recent floods one man found his home flooded because the water was coming up through the floor boards as the water table had risen so much.  When encouraged to find someone to blame he proceeded to say that his house was flooded and no one had provided him with sandbags.  What point sandbags would have done to help his situation I have no idea.  Vox Pops help to fill air time and in this age of 24 hr news broadcasters are desperate to fill time even if it is with useless, uninformed opinions

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

BBC Today programme

On the now infamous BBC Radio 4 Today programme Ewan Sutherland, the Cooperative Retail chairman, was bullied by the presenter Ewan Davies.  He was asked questions about a customer survey his company was sending out asking what people wanted to happen to the dividend paid to customers. Davies then asked him what he thought should happen where upon the chairman said he wanted to hear from the customers.  Davies, like a dog with a bone, continued to interrupt and aggressively state that as a chairman he must have an opinion.  The chairman continued to sidestep the question. Eventually he said he quite liked the idea of the money going towards the community served by the coop.  Davies then went for the kill saying what was the point of sending out a survey if he had already made his mind up.  First of all this was an opinion not a statement of what was going to happen.  Maybe as chairman he should have stuck to his guns and said nothing but all Davies was interested in was making entertainment out of a news item.  The whole idea of a survey seems good to me and helping local communities would indeed be a productive solution so why not praise the idea of getting local opinion instead of trying to score points. When will reporters  stick to their aims of giving us news and not turning serious events into a pantomime.  Next time we can all shout Davies is "behind you

Monday, 17 February 2014

Damage to the police

I find it difficult to admit that for once I agree with Shami Chakrabarti, the leader of "Liberty" the Human Rights Organisation.  Usually her ill calculated and simplistic views cause me to turn away when she appears however her latest written testament in the Sunday Times leads me to feel that she does have certain lucid moments.  It is perfectly clear that the Police Federation, which attempts to stand up for the police force of our country is corrupt.
 The Plebgate affair has run and run for far too long. Andrew Mitchell, a past member of the Cabinet who was forced to resign when a number of policeman lied about an incident that Andrew Mitchell was involved in. Andrew Mitchell caught them out by recording a conversation he had with the Police Federation. This has caused irreparable damage to the publics view of the police force.  The majority of police offices do their job excellently but as usual a few bad apples have caused us to feel that at times we are not protected for those bad apples.  The MP Andrew Mitchell has been lambasted in the press and by the police federation because he chose to tell the truth unlike the police offices who lied about witnessing his actions.  The Police Federation think this matter will blow over but I hope not and that those offenders are brought to book.  Shami's article focuses on a libel case being brought by one of the police offices involved against Andrew Mitchell.  If this case is allowed to proceed then we can expect all of our courts to be full as every policeman who has been abused or shouted at by a member takes umbridge. The job of a policeman is difficult but for these bad apples and the failed Police Federation to try and win a case which they have already lost is only making the situation worse.  Grow up and admit you got it wrong and bring the liars to book.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Appropriate Footwear

Politicians can never win. If they keep out of the way during a crisis they are said to not care.   When they visit a crisis area they get ridiculed.  David Cameron along with all the other party leaders visited some of the worst hit areas that have been hit with flooding.  Instead of welcoming the fact and reporting extensively on the positive comments from the public some sections of the media decided to concentrate on their footwear.  For some reason the tabloids, tv channels and  broadsheets found wellingtons extremely funny.  They call themselves news media. More like comics to me.  Maybe we get the news media we deserve. Why do people buy this drivel?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Keeping identities away from the Media

Recently a number of high profile people from television have been arrested and accused of sex with, in some cases, underage people.  One of these from a famous British soap has been found not guilty.  This trial took weeks to carry out and involved a very long wait for the person when  the person was first arrested.  In all cases these people had been charged and their names were out in the media.  However, their names have been out in the media for months before they were charged.  My annoyance is with the ability of the media to name anyone who is arrested before being charged.  The argument by those people who want to ensure rape victims are given justice is that the naming of suspects brings other people out into the open so they can add their accusations to the initial one.  What about the accused person? I thought a person was innocent until proved guilty but in the eyes of the media everyone is game to be given a trial by media. The case of a murder in Bristol resulted in a man being arrested and who's character was totally destroyed in the media.  It was discovered this man had nothing to do with the murder and was never charged. The press even had to pay him compensation for the invasion of his privacy.   Rape victims need protection but so do the wrongly accused or any suspect until they are charged.  It is perfectly fair to keep a suspects name and identity out of the media (that includes social media) until they are charged.  At this point anybody else can come forward and add their accusation to the case.  It is just as important innocent individuals are protected from the media as well as the victims.  The Leveson report is still to be implemented by the government.  I hope for justice sake they implement this element.  Please note I have deliberately left out names of the people mentioned in these cases even though they have been charged and their cases are going through the courts.  Social media should be treated in the same way as other forms of the media and people held to account when they make accusations against people. This links to an argument the media uses that what is the point of news agencies not reporting things when information is already on Twitter or other social media sites.  I do not trust social media and rely on non biased newspapers and other official media.  We should  question all issues of news reporting including the issues I write about. We need to be able to trust our news media. They need to report accurately and fairly and not write with profits in mind.  This does not happen

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The British Floods

The floods around Britain are a Lifeline for a Media stuck for stories.  Here's another opportunity to blame anybody in authority when in fact the problem is the weather.  They can't have a rant at Nature.  The constant issue being raised that the government needs to do more.  This is a "State of Emergency". Record levels of rain.  Just because an area was flooded last year does not mean to say it will flood this year.  It's the same when we have snow.  The moaners come out of the woodwork to say why don't we have better and bigger machinery to deal with snowfall.  The answer is clearly given this year when snow moving machines are sitting idle this winter.  Some of the public and the media always like to pick up on things that they themselves cannot predict .  Spending millions on flood defences have taken place around Gloucester and other places at regular risk.  This has protected these areas. Very little mention of the work of the Environment Agency on the media about this work.  On another issue much of the flooding has been caused by these flood protection systems which simply move the problem further down stream.  Many of these places have been flooded since before Christmas.  Where was the media then.  No predictions from them at this point showing the "powers that be" that there was going to be a problem.  The government faced the same problem of not having a crystal ball.  The media should get behind the hard work of staff and volunteers and accept that this is a natural disaster.   They should be helping and not criticising and letting people who are obviously upset about the damage to their homes have a large amount of air time when what they say is tempered by their grief.  There have been far more houses and business's protected from flood water than have been flooded
Chris Ship on ITV news was interviewing Cameron and questioned him about Chris Smiths track record.  Cameroon quite rightly said the time for discussions about how things were handled would come after the disaster had been dealt with.  Mr Ship decided to interpret this as meaning that Lord Smith would be sacked.  What a waste of space these reporters are. DanRivers (appropriate name) said the people felt forgotten.  Maybe it was the media who had forgotten them since they picked other stories that they thought were more sensational but really less important earlier on in the disaster.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Policeman compensation

Recently a policeman, Mick Baillon, was criticised for the compensation he received for the ridicule he received from fellow offices when confronting a person who had not been wearing his seatbelt.  He was filmed smashing the side window on a drivers car which took him a number of blows to penetrate the glass.  For some reason this film made it on to You Tube.  Since the video was a police video I can only assume one of his colleagues did this.  Surely a breach of security. Although the matter of the compensation is something to be questioned the way in which the situation was  reported by the press again shows information being edited to give a different focus of what happened.  It was stated in all the later reports that the window was being smashed by a policemen because the driver was not wearing his seatbelt.  This was not correct.  The driver having been stopped when approached by the policeman drove off which resulted in a chase.  The policeman had to smash to window to stop the perpetrator from driving off.  The driver in fact had the ordacity  to claim compensation for the traumour he had been subjected to.  This miss reporting  shows how the press abuses it position to create a more sensational story to sell more newspapers and increase listening and viewing figures. Trying to show a policeman in a poor light

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Tube Strike

The tube strike in London is a pain to all travellers.  The fact that they have a Union Leader, Bob Crow, who suns himself in the Caribbean while the strike approaches and lives in a council house on subsidised rent when he earns a 6 figure salary shows how these people try to hold the country to ransom even though they are not democratically elected as representatives of the rest of us.  The Tube is run as a Cartel.  No competition.  However I digress. Richard  Westcote reporting on tube strike for the BBC did not mention the fact that their would be no enforced redundancies. He mentioned 750 redundancies but painted the picture that this would mean people would be forced into unemployment.  Two sides to every story and the News media should give both sides.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Prince Charles interpretation

Prince Charles visit to Somerset Levels
After the devastating floods in Somerset the media were again up to mischief. The BBC reporter, John Kay, said that Prince Charles was leaping into a political argument when in fact the argument is with the  Environmental  agency  Nothing to do with politics since issues of how the environment agency has been working have been going on for years through many different political parties.  The comments made by Prince Charles were clearly focused at the Environmental agency.  As usual the media tries to twist an issue into what they would like it to be.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

London Tube Strike

First of all why the gap in posts well found myself in North Wales and 3G is not that plentiful.  Now back to what I was going to talk about
Why does Nick Robinson not ask an accurate Vox Pop question. When Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) was asked how strikes on the Tube could be avoided he responded by saying that there should be a need that over 50% of those balloted must say yes to the strike   When Nick Robinson from BBC News asked people in the street about the strike  his question was "how would you feel about legislation being introduced that would make strikes illegal" Of course the majority said they did not agree  The Medias aim is to create conflict manufactured by them where no conflict exists.  If the question had been asked " How do you feel about 50% being set as a threshold" I am absolutely convinced the answer would have been different.  But yet again the media  controls the information we get fed. Inaccurate information at that.  The media must be held to account.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Spoilers on TV

Why do they give away the end of programmes on TV.  There is a programme on tonight called Fake or Fortune which looks at diffent pieces of art and then decides if they are real or fake.  Why does the BBC News broadcast this morning the result before the programme has even been broadcast.  What is the point.  It's the same when it comes programmes which finish with a synopsis of the next weeks programme.  No need to watch when you see this.  Then there's the programmes, normally on ITV which constantly go over what has been already shown.  The National Trust programme with Michael Buerk was some of the workst television I have seen.  Constant recaps, patronising commentary and 20 programmes when one would have done.  What is happening to the quality of entertainment being pumped into our homes.  The BBC still produces, on average, the best programmes in the world because their is no commercial pressure.  Let's make sure we keep the TV licence but please stop the spoilers

Friday, 31 January 2014

Phone Hacking Sienna Miller

Those sooner those journalistic animals are brought to book the better.  The News of the World court case continues to rumble on.  Oh how I love to see the defendants in the dock getting a taste of their own medicine as they run the gauntlet of the Photographers.  However, that's not the main reason for this post it's the fact that the Media continues to report on personal details of Sienna Miller and Daniel Craig.  Who cares if one texted the other in a personal way. What right had the dependents to hack into their phones and publish stories with impunity?  The Media continues to report the personal details to the trial under the heading of Public Interest". Should that read " In the interest of making profits  at the expense of others".Surely this is just as bad as the work News  of the World scum were doing?
The media again sees itself above the law unfortunelty it's not against the law YET.  Come on Levison

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Bonuses and business

To me a bonus is something given for exceptional service.  I have no objection to big bonuses as long as someone has earned it and does not get it just because everyone else is or it's written into a contract in place of a flat salary or as an excuse that this is the only way we can get the "right" people for the job.  I've just listened to the news where a reporter on "You and Yours" was pressing a boss of British Rail as to whether he was going to accept his bonus when there had been a number of accidents at level crossings.  Assuming there was no negligence on behalf of British Rail in maintaining the crossing, which there was no suggestion that there was, why should the boss be blaimed because people cannot use level crossing safely.  Plenty of warnings, flashing lights etc and yet people still choose to ignore them.  Blaim the users and stop trying to create mischief and trying to get people doing their jobs to give up what they may deserve if the criteria explained at the beginning has been fulfilled.  I'm sure I'll have something to add about Bankers but leave that for another day.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Comment on news and media as I see it

I'm so fed up with listening to the media forcing their opinions on us all and twisting the real news that I felt I had to intervene and try and put the other side of the story.  I don't expect the media to be interested since they are the target for my comments and in some cases rants.
The news media was created way back in the mists of the time and their role was to deliver the news.  No longer is that the focus the media is there to sell something and in most cases it's opinion and not news.  Radio 4 "Today" programme is one of the worst perpetrators of this with people like Robert Peston and Nick Robinson passing comment as Fact.  Many listeners and viewers treat their comments as fact and not opinion.  What right have they to have more of a public opinion than the rest of us.  Ok we need opinion to help us make up our own minds but not under the banner of news and in particular BBCNews which is meant to be impartial.
Well that's a start and most of the comments here will be short.  Whether anybody else reads them and comments remains to be seen.  
At least it makes me feel better.