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