Saturday, January 7, 2017

The news where you might be, but probably aren't

I think most people would agree that STV have been somewhat better and more balanced in their coverage of the Scottish political scene than either their network ITV counterparts, or the BBC.  It was therefore very disappointing to see STV journalist Oliver Dickinson post the following tweet a few hours ago -

"Looking to speak to anyone in Scotland who has had an operation delayed or cancelled in the last year for tonight's STV News."

OK, look.  It's all very well broadcast journalists reacting with indignation and incredulity when the hated "Cybernats" question their commitment to political impartiality, but they really do only have themselves to blame if they're going to publicly post tweets that basically say "we want to feature you on the news if you've had a bad experience with the Scottish NHS that would lend credence to the opposition parties' latest attack line, but for pity's sake don't trouble us if you've had a good experience".  An ITV journalist (Peter A Smith) defended Dickinson by essentially saying "don't shoot the messenger" - he argued that if bad news exists, you shouldn't be blaming a journalist for reporting it.  That's fine, but what you can blame a journalist for is seeking out only negative information, and precluding even the possibility of exposing himself to anything more positive.  It's fatuous to pretend that such an approach will not skew the content of the eventual news item.

Not for the first time, David Halliday nailed it with his own sardonic response -

"Looking to speak to anyone in Scotland whose experience matches tomorrow's Labour party press release, for the day after tomorrow's news."

28 comments:

  1. Mr Dickinson should get off his lazy a*se and go round his local hospitals and ask the patients what their experience has been instead of looking for negative feedback from weekend Twitter users. Says so much about today's journalism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be poetic justice if he ended up unwittingly using a Labour activist with an embellished story.

      Delete
  2. I'm not sure what to make of it. It's clear that some journalists go fir a 'human interest' story. Inevitably for most journalists, that is targeting 'hits' per page. Let's face it, good news doesn't necessarily bring page views. Many snp supporters are 'blindly' sensitive to criticism of the snp (largely because it's only ever negative criticism. I think we need to chill out. The NHS in Scotland is under pressure. That just can't be denied. Despite that, it out performs the rest of the uk NHS services. It's only important to compare with other parts of the uk, because the Scottish budget isn't set in the context of the Scottish economy with many key powers over the economy retained by Westminster. The unionist parties are determined to minimise that latter bit and the press will happily write it up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, this certainly wasn't about targeting hits per page - it was for the TV news.

      Delete
    2. That's as maybe, but they need to fill the news with something and good news doesn't do it. The fact that he openly trawled on twitter is a demonstration of the poverty of journalism these days. The truth is that the SNP are the government of the day. Stv like BBC want to see that changed. What's new?

      Delete
  3. I have not seen any STV TV report, but looked at the report on STV News web page. This latter just seems to echo the SLab press release without adding any useful analysis.

    STV journalist Peter A Smith has some high-minded stuff on Twitter ("There are concerning problems in different areas of the NHS. People want a good NHS. Highlighting deficiencies helps improvement.") But if there was any substance to his claim, surely STV could have made at least some attempt to break down the reasons for non-clinical cancellations. I assume that we would be in favour of cancellations that respond to emergencies taking priority. I'd assume also that scheduling operations efficiently (without perfect advance knowledge of any factors that could affect duration) means that overruns will have knock-on effect. Perhaps there are some types of operation that are so routine that they should run very predictably, and the scheduling ought to run as planned. But for other types, it is not reasonable to add so much contingency as to try to reduce this effect to near zero.

    Some, indeed any, investigation by a journalist might have helped inform us about non-clinical cancellations reasons, and rates, historical context (are they improving), UK context (Scottish NHS compared to "the NHS") or further international context (OK, maybe that would be too much hard work). But all of that was missing from a lazy-journalism web piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe Peter A Smith is a network ITV journalist, rather than STV. (That's what his Twitter profile says, at any rate.)

      Delete
  4. Glasgow Working Class 2January 7, 2017 at 10:37 PM

    People will not make comment about a good experience in the NHS as they expect a good service. They will complain when they feel let down. The NHS is bursting at the seams and all political parties have to sort it. Playing the political foot ball with our health has to end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shoosh. The grown-ups are talking.

      Delete
  5. My few brushes with NHS 'care' in the last decade have left a lot to be desired it has to be said. And same day appointments are preventing people from seeing doctors in a timely fashion, with inevitably fatal consequences. Add to that the fact that money is diverted away from things like cancer treatment to subsidise free solpadeine for middle class SNP voters, and you can assign the same grade to SNP medicine as you can to pretty much every other area of their government: F.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For full disclosure : you are a member of which political party?

      Delete
    2. I'm not a member of any political party. I usually vote conservative these days - a party that has never been in power in Edinburgh. Your lot run the show James and have done for ten years. You own the problems now. Or, rather, your party does. The rest of us are simply tied up in the boot of the car while the inept driver blunders on.

      Delete
    3. Aldo, if the SNP is bad at everything , from the police to the uni system, transportation, health etc etc. As your posts always show, why have they been ascending in popularity. It defies common, sense. Just for fun, is there actually anything in Scotland that Scots can run? Related: polls showed only 30-35% in England actually think the conservatives have done a good job, the other voters just don't want labor.so why are they rated so low and snp so high if Scotland government sucks and english system is so truck in awesome?

      Delete
    4. Quite simply Bill, Scotland is polarised due to the issue of independence, with the minority nationalists prepared for the moment to throw their weight behind one party as a sort of battering ram to achieve independence. Matters of policy and the day to day running of the country are of secondary concern and will remain so until something gives - either the SNP makes a catastrophic and noticeable error or independence is achieved or the yessers get bored. My money is on the latter scenario, although it may take some time.

      Delete
    5. Doesn't address the second half or a dress why 46% would want independence from a top notch government. Sorry, but 46 % is historically a lot. In the us, the colonists had at best 35%. In our civil war, the confederacy had 18% in 1860. Lomvoln only got like 39%.

      Delete
    6. It's actually more like 37% of the Scottish electorate. Dreamers, the easily led and anti English bigots. Add together all of the above and its not surprising that its in the region of roughly one third. What we need to do is improve education but there is little chance of that happening under the SNP, who seem to be deliberately following a policy of 'keep them dumb'.

      I never said the British government was top notch. Nor do I believe that the lack, in England, of the type of hero worship of the governing party that we see in Scotland necessarily means that the British government is poor or worse than the SNP government. I don't think I brought up the record of the British government at all. You did that, to deflect attention away from your own party's poor record.

      Delete
    7. It always comes down to sneers with the Tories, doesn't it?

      Delete
    8. Both my wife and I have received exceptionally good care from our general practitioner and when we have occasion to use hospital services. In the past few years we have looked after elderly relatives, one with dementia and the other with a heart condition. We have been in touch with a wide range of services which have been, in the main, more than satisfactory. Where we did experience a problem was in securing a discharge facility for the relative with dementia who had deteriorated mentally in hospital while being treated for a physical problem requiring surgery. There were very few places available in our local community that were of a suitable standard because they were full. This led to our relative remaining in hospital several weeks after he needed to be there.

      Delete
  6. well documented ... and even better snared, James :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glasgow Working Class 2January 8, 2017 at 2:42 AM

      You Nat sis should have the courage to go for a referendum but you are shiting yourselves. Knickerless would have to resign when you lose. The mouthy wee bitch will look after her own interests while you devout faithful follow blindly.
      Go for it fash call the referendum now.

      Delete
    2. I don't envy Strugglin. She really is in a tight spot. Postpone the referendum and lose the chance of independence perhaps forever. Hold it, lose it, and end her career. Or hold it, win it, and have to actually run a country - without the big bad tories holding her hand. She probably wishes the SNP had stayed relatively powerless. Job for life, great pension, no tough decisions. Now she is staring at several awful scenarios. These moments were intended for experts in statecraft - not wee nippy fae the chippy.

      Delete
    3. Yes. Only centrist laborites and conservative Tories have actual values, all the others are untrustful SOBs out for a pension. We know the house of lords is empty of retired Tories and labor pols. Packed with greens and SNP and siin Fein types.

      Delete
    4. When Strugglin joined the SNP in the 1980s or whenever it was they were a bit of a joke, with a position in local government the best that most of its members could realistically hope for. The implementation of devolution and the rapid growth of the party to majority status came out of left field. There must be many people in the SNP who are gobsmacked by their success - and even fearful of what it might lead to.

      Delete
    5. Yup, that's why people generally get involved with a political party - to feel irrelevant, insignificant and powerless. Get a grip, Aldo, your carping is normally a bit better than this desperate double-think.

      Delete
    6. The SNP originally served as a sort of Scottish conservative party, with independence a far off ideal that in most peoples' minds would probably never be realised. It's easy to sign up to something that isn't realistically going to happen - like putting your name down to ride on a mile tall rollercoaster. Easy to do when it doesn't exist, you might change your mind when they build the thing.

      Delete
    7. Don't you think he looks tired?

      Delete
  7. My God, the fear is palpable....����

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the nationalists are really shiteing themselves.

      Delete