English Academic blames the media for Covid failures

A friend of the Tusker, Brian Watson, sent me the above. It does not mention Scotland but it could be all about our media and their failure to fulfill their mission in a way which might have helped us fight the pandemic, saving many lives, but which actually impeded our efforts.

The BBC has a mission embedded in a Royal Charter:

The Mission of the BBC is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.

Two words, ‘inform‘ and ‘educate‘ are key.

Keep them in mind as I briefly outline Professor Bryson’s comparison of the contrasting cultures in the BBC and in RTE, the public service broadcasters of the UK and of Ireland.

Bryson says:

There urgently needs to be a critical discussion of the role journalists play in UK society. Does this include education, or should the focus just be on holding others to account combined with human-interest stories?

RTE in the pandemic has focused on education, explaining the science behind social distancing and lock-down and helping its audience to understand the ‘R number.’

In the UK, the BBC and, of course the press, were both late in attempting to explain and tended to present the response to the pandemic as a politicised process where strategies are challenged and blame is allocated for ‘failures’.

The death rate in Ireland has been m

Bryson insists:

The British media should acknowledge that they play a key role in shaping the UK’s response to Covid-19 and this shaping often produces perverse outcomes, but with no accountability. The very process of focussing on the latest fashionable, and often media-hyped, ‘failures’ distracts from the primary challenge of saving lives.

He does not mention this explicitly but one obvious consequence of the media narrative will have been to undermine compliance. The death rate in England has been almost twice that of Ireland:


Bryson concludes:

Currently, there is a debate about the UK’s comparative failure in addressing Covid-19. Journalists and other commentators highlight that the failure is either attributable to government or to Boris Johnson. Any comparison between the UK media and, for example, the Covid-19 coverage provided by RTE would suggest that part of the failure can be attributed to institutional failure across the British media. We urgently need a discussion that addresses the question: what type of media for what type of society?

Returning to Scotland, how similar has it been here?

We’ve had a lower death and infection rate but, I’d argue, that has been despite the appalling failure of BBC Scotland and the press to inform and to educate, rather than to daily undermine the Government strategy. The effect has been to weaken popular morale and discipline with a narrative which seeks to merely entertain, to satisfy the bitter desires of the opposition parties, to construct ‘failures‘ and to score points.

Lives have been lost.

In Scotland too, Bryson’s words resonate:

There urgently needs to be a critical discussion of the role journalists play in UK society. Does this include education, or should the focus just be on holding others to account combined with human-interest stories?

16 thoughts on “English Academic blames the media for Covid failures”

  1. The media in Scotland are a disgrace to journalism.
    They operate as a “fifth column” against the Scottish government, because they are opposed to Scotland being a self governing country—the international norm.
    Scots are dying because of the British nationalist agenda in the media.

    That is a fact, though I expect some eijit will pop up to suggest they are “entitled” to misrepresent facts, be biased and stand up for Boris!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simple
    There shall be a day of reckoning for them
    And they ain’t gonna like it
    Karma it is called
    Their deeds are done
    And as a consequence the effects upon them shall arrive Tis on the way


  3. It’s been a long time coming, that at least some of the media, broadcasting and print are up to their armpits in blood, whether its Covid, Iraq, Syria, Brexit or austerity they have been complicit in government
    engineered harm to the population they purport to serve. It’s apparently not illegal to lie, misrepresent and mislead during the Constitutional process or indeed even a killer pandemic, I doubt strongly that I am the only one who thinks it bloody well should be.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Watched the BBC in Scotland’s “The Nine”. Announced that Holyrood had passed the Scot Gove Strategic Framework bill. No information was given on the numbers for or against.
    Guessing this means bill was passed by a large majority, that the BBC didn’t want their audience to know about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For info, on the Covid-19 Strategic Framework Debate today, the results have been posted on the Scottish Parliament website. In summary:

      Tory Amendment: defeated – it was supported only by the Tories and Labour

      Labour amendment: defeated – it was supported by Labour, the Tories (but with one Tory abstention) and the Lib Dems

      Greens’ amendment: agreed – without need for a vote

      Lib Dem amendment: agreed – without need for a vote

      The FM’s motion (as amended) – agreed – without division.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the link to Professor Bryson’s blog. It makes for a refreshing read: someone with no apparent skin in the ‘Scotland’ media situation is alive to comparable ‘problems’ more widely.

    There are some interesting btl comments on the blog, to which I added (currently in moderation) the following:

    ‘The record of multiple (c. 10 per day) questions from print and broadcast media journalists posed at every weekday briefing for many months to the First Minister of Scotland, and to her ministerial colleagues and senior public health officials, provides a rich archive now of the nature, tone and purpose of the media aimed (presumably) at holding the Scottish Government to account on behalf of readers/listeners/viewers.

    The documented record of all this potentially provides an opportunity to research how the collective and the individual (e.g. BBC or Telegraph etc.) media organisations’ questioning has evolved over the months and also potentially to track through how the responses by the FM then get used (or abused, or omitted) in subsequent coverage/publication. A potentially rich seam of research material – for someone!

    One notable feature of media coverage of Covid-19 management by many outlets has been the use (over-use or abuse) of the ‘salient exemplar’. To be expected perhaps by corporate media requiring the ‘dramatic’ to attract readership but it has also been a common practice especially by BBC Scotland. This is often coupled by the absence of much or any context or perspective, and the repetition (the stuck record) of prior ‘conclusions’ that have at least been challenged subsequently if not refuted by newer public health/scientific research.

    Moreover, constant repetition by the public service broadcaster of the terms ‘confusing’ or ‘confused’ – coupled with the aforementioned use of the salient exemplar and scant provision of context and perspective, ends up with what – its readers/viewers/listeners being ‘confused’?

    Some of the questions at the daily briefings in Scotland are IMHO ‘dire’: I am amazed at the FM’s patience and politeness at times!’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know if you caught today’s media briefing, but there was a typical example of word-twisting (he said NS said the care home report was irrelevant!) This one was so bad that NS actually called him out on it and apologised. At which she accepted and apologised for how she’d possibly responded.

      I loved her (very polite) response “I think you’ve still got your mike on, Peter. We can still here you” to the comment along the lines “You gave her a good swipe there, mate”. Everything comes to she who waits?


  6. If one considers that we in fact are at war with covid 19 and as such the actions of those in the media is none other than acts of treason
    Tell me if you seen upon a C.V. if you would employ one who had the following words attributable to the candidate
    Discard proper reputable academic research
    Poor listener
    Accept bribes
    Deliberately cause harm
    Threaten life
    All positive attributes in becoming a inmate
    Of Carstairs as opposed to that of a so called
    Media journalist
    They are a utter disgrace not only to themselves,but the whole of humanity
    In order for them to pursue a most successful career i can impart 2 telephone nos.to them
    The 1st being Doctor Who
    The 2nd The camp commandant at Auswitch
    Whereby if they make contact then their career path shall go into the stratosphere
    And unbeknown to them a tremendous reward shall bestow them
    But not as they think or desire but very close
    As to where it shall be placed upon their person as decided by certain people at Nuremburg
    Such would be a most fitting end to their career NOW & THEN

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just they will need The Doctor to transport
        Themselves back to where they can become their true selves
        That is all i need the Doctor for to help their career path and a most fitting end reward for them
        After all they can be measured and weighed
        In the Tardus for the gallows that awaits them


      2. Well, that’s alright then LOL. 😀

        I like the idea that (s)he merely transports them to a plant where they can all live together with each other?

        Can you imagine? If Hell really is other people, perhaps being surrounded by a crowd of ‘people’ just like themselves really would mend ’em. And, if it didn’t, they claim others’ misery is self-inflicted.

        May I suggest that living in a society where they suffer the effects of their own creation (at least for their lifetime, if not eternity) is greater retribution than the gallows? Perhaps not as immediately satisfying, I grant you! 🙂


      3. iusedtobeenglush
        I concur was merely pointing out the actual severity of their actions and the consequences
        As to Hell/ Heaven if they do indeed exist
        Then you would be in for a helluva surprise
        As to who actualy resides within
        Tony Blair
        Jacob Rees
        G.W.Bush Jnr.
        All for hell no doubt
        As for heaven
        Mostly unnoticed common people
        Always never mentioned but as they say
        And the Meek shall inherit the Earth
        But personally for myself tis karma i believe in
        And life is merely a journey for preparing your self for the unavoidable


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