Tuesday, 13 February 2007

why is the media dumbing down?

Maybe you don't think it is, however I will try to convince you that there is a definite trend in this direction.

The trend has been over many years, a critical point was undoubtedly Murdoch taking on and beating the unions with help from his buddy Margaret Thatcher.


There were some very unsavoury elements to the Wapping dispute. Certainly the back scratching that has gone on between politicians and media since then, cannot be good for good objective journalism and a free press. This has continued to the present day with one example being the symbiotic relationship between Tony Blair and Rupert Murdoch; to grossly simplify it:

'You get me elected and I'll bend the rules to expand and enhance your monopoly'

Just look at this list of what News Corp owns:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_Corporation

It is truly amazing. I do not know how anyone could argue that this kind of domination could be good for producing unbiased objective journalism, so how can this be good for the democratic process. I know people like John Pilger have written extensively on this, and it is easy to write people like Pilger off as leftie loons; however if you look a bit more closely at things then the facts seem to back these guys up and one can begin to doubt a lot of what the mainstream media says. Have a read if you want to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Pilger

I've heard there is a good p*ss take of the mighty Fox news here:

Anyway what relevance does this have to the way the NHS and medicine in general is reported in the press? Well, it starts to become abundantly clear that major issues are being ignored by the mainstream press in favour of issues that shouldn't even merit being on our bog roll.

A classic example is the mainstream media's coverage of recent NHS problems.

The pay of GPs has taken many headlines and front pages, and GPs have been branded 'selfish' and 'greedy' by certain journalists. What we talking about here is a 'generous' pay deal that was offered to GPs by the government, that has cost the NHS a few extra million a year to fund.

This is an issue for sure, but good journalism involves seeing this issue in context. You would imagine that the waste of billions would grab more headlines than the expenditure of millions rewarding hard working GPs, wouldn't you?

Well I'd hope this was the case. Unfortunately it is not. CFISSA, the government's centrally funded health initiatives, was remarkably over 7 BILLION over budget for 2005-6 alone! This is when the press cannot stop going on about the NHS deficit which has hovered between 500million-1 billion pounds. Thus the government is burning billions, which the press ignore; and millions spent in other areas grab the headlines. There is something dreadfully wrong here.

This is another slant on events:

""Removing out-of-hours obligations from GPs and carving General Practice up into targets is merely a way of introducing privatisation. The blame heaped on GPs for doing what was asked of them will further fuel the argument for more competition....as public funds for healthcare are increasingly devoted to the shareholders of private companies." MD

It only takes a quick internet search to find out where the government is squandering billions with the likes of NPfIT (IT scheme), PFIs and ISTCs. Look at this for recent evidence that the multi-BILLION pound IT scheme is doomed to fail:

The media is slowly catching on to this shocking mismanagement of the NHS by the government and stories that reveal this are becoming far more common.


I do hope that this isn't all too late as the health reforms are still in full swing, and it may well be too late to undo the damage done to a national institution. I still think the media has taken far too long to cotton on to this wasteful and corrupt government policy.

Over the last twenty years the NHS gas been wrecked all in the name of ideology; the ideology is that the market and private enterprise will improve the service. Events since the creation of the internal market and the shifting of work to private providers have conclusively proved that this ideology is nothing more than hot air. Unfortunately in proving this ideology wrong, a national institution has been destroyed. A great shame.

I am not a absolute believer in either private or state. I think it is madness to dogmatically box oneself up. Both can be good or bad, depending on the context in which they are to be used. Certain systems such as railways are suited to being state run as they are natural monopolies, while other ventures are better privately run; although the state still retains an important role as regards appropriate regulation.

I digress, the point I have tried to make is that ideology should not govern policy and that an important role of the media is to critically and objectively analyze events; thus mistakes can be avoided and if mistakes are made, they can be quickly remedied. The increasing monopoly of ownership by the likes of the dirty digger cannot be good for enhancing the role of the media as a means for debate and discussion. It has led to a media that is increasingly led by the PR industry, meaning that stories are manufactured and important news is missed. This has helped to drive good investigative journalism into the shadows, while the cheap PR industry manufactured garbage has flourished and we see the media increasingly dominated by celebrity related gossip.

I want to see the most important stories in the news, I do not want to read about David Cameron smoking a spliff on the front page whilst major issues are hidden in the back pages. I want to read stories that have some kind of factual basis and I want to hear science, not pseudo-science. I want to see government ministers grilled by journalists who know enough to be able to corner them, and I want the propaganda-posing-as-fact that is fed to us by government agencies to be exposed as such. So media, sort it out, otherwise us bloggers will take over the world!

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