An article on the BBC News website today offers a further example of how the BBC seems determined to muddle – or something else – its reporting of Covid statistics. The article in question is under the headline: ‘Covid-19: Concern at ‘unprecedented’ infection level in England’.
These are the opening three paragraphs:
Para 1: ‘England’s “very high” Covid infection level is a “growing concern” as the NHS struggles to cope with rising patient numbers, a health official has said.’
So it’s about England then? Ah, well maybe not!
Para 2: “On Monday, a record 41,385 Covid cases and 357 deaths were reported in the UK.”
Were stats for ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ in England not available to The BBC? Of course they were. So what is their logic in shifting unneccesarily from England stats to UK stats here?
Para 3: ‘NHS England said the number of people being treated for the virus in hospital is now 20,426, which is higher than the previous peak of about 19,000 in April.’
So we’re back to England then! Again, what is the logic in this shift back to England stats? England stats, followed by UK stats and then back to England stats – what is the editorial justification for this?
Candidly, this IS simply illogical. It is confusing and therefore, unhelpful. It is appallingly bad reporting of quantitative evidence if done without thought, without awareness. And if done deliberately – then why?
One might have hoped that in the period since March 2020 a public service organisation would have developed high quality, clear and consistent editorial and journalistic practices for the reporting of quantitative official statistics at UK and individual nation geographies. It would have sought to avoid such confusion and illogicality.
It is not journalistic rocket science: the FACT that The BBC has not established such basic editorial standards only opens it up (again) to suspicion over its motives.