A screenshot of a person

Description automatically generated
The English, Welsh and N Irish health secretaries are men. They never appear in reports of crisis. Why does Jeanne appear so often? Why did Shona Robison, appears so often before her?

For the EIGHTH day in a row BBC Scotland have headlined the supposed crisis at the new Southern General and, on most of those, have used an image of an anxious Health Secretary. STV, like any tabloid news agency, have fed on the victim too but have been far less consistently dramatic, personal or political.

Today’s reports highlight the difference between the two. The state broadcaster is hammering home an attempt to damage the SNP in the purdah period of an election. STV, part of a corporate business will exploit any trauma they think will attract viewers.

Compare the two headlines. One seeks to criminalise and to blame the board, the other has no such political agenda and has clearly, in a kind of professional way, used the message the government response actually communicated – support.

Compare the two images. The image of the actual hospital involved is informative, but the image of the health secretary is not. It adds nothing useful and can only harm her reputation. It’s exploitative, in the way readers of the Daily Mail expect. Try looking at the BBC UK, England, Wales and Northern Ireland websites. There are many NHS stories there but not one picture of any politician.


Compare the text. The BBC Scotland report uses ‘special measures’ 6 times and ‘support’ in the context of supporting the board, 3 times. The STV report uses ‘special measures’ 0 times, and ‘support’ in the context of supporting the board, 7 times.

In the actual Scottish Government release (as in the STV report), the journalistic source, you’d imagine, ‘support’ is also used 7 times and likewise ‘special measures’ does not appear at all. BBC Scotland’s news editorial team have chosen to add the term in the same as Lisa Summers introduced the term ‘dysfunctional’ for NHS Tayside when actually appeared in no source or other media report.


We all know which organisation needs to be put into special measures.