‘Behind each statistic on NHS lists is a person living with the pain and the anxiety of waiting’.
Now remember that. Don’t forget them. Don’t go off today, living your life, ignorant of these facts. We’ve chosen these images of suffering because we think it’s important that you know about them and that you let them form a major element in what you agree is socially real. It’s in the public interest as we define it. So, remember, ‘pain’, ‘anxiety’, waiting.’ Our ‘Disclosure Team’ has risked life and limb to expose this suffering and you can hear all about it tonight on Disclosure: Life on the NHS List!
Of course, behind some statistics on NHS performance is a person living now without pain and anxiety or even a person living who might otherwise not be. Remember, when targets are missed, this can still mean that up to 90% of those people were treated within the target time and crucially are now living free of pain.
Which of the above is more important information for you in forming a reasonably accurate sense of social reality so that you can then think, feel and behave in a way that is also reasonably well-matched to the world in which you must operate?
As newspaper readership plummets, TV news becomes by far the dominant source of news for most of the middle-aged and elderly in Scotland. Some of these and most of the younger people benefit from the more diverse, controllable and often healthily contrarian, information flows, through social media and, at the same time, from access to mainstream media of a more global nature online.
Now, I’m not going to talk of the media ‘constructing’ reality because the word can suggest ‘making up’ reality. The social scientists first using the term ‘construction’ did not, of course mean it in that way, but to avoid accusations of paranoia from the usual suspects at BBC Scotland, I’ll use the term ‘agreeing’ based on this:
‘The media can act as a socializing agent by constructing reality and then disseminating this reality to the mass public. The “social” element comes into play when upon receiving the media’s “reality” message, the vast majority agree upon this reality and accept it. Following this pattern, social construction may be more appropriately referred to as social agreement of reality. The term construction seems to imply that the media is “making-up” or “creating” reality. While some would agree with the previous statement, I believe to spout such an assertion is ludicrous because the media often must report issues that are simply a matter of operating by typical journalist guidelines/standards. Someone must make decisions concerning what information passes on to the public. Should this be a government responsibility or the responsibility of individuals who have a real desire to be in the industry and have studied the industry? While it is easy to sit back and criticize the media, they are providing a necessary function to society and individuals need this function (i.e., information providing).’
I’m going to argue here that a group of individuals at BBC Scotland are making decisions leading to distortion of reality with damaging consequences for wider public health and for democratic engagement, despite having the guidance of a royal charter to make them ‘responsible’ and to ‘inform’ having, presumably, studied the industry at an academic level.
I can’t of course complete this until I’ve seen it, but I can lay out a methodology that will reliably assess its quality as ‘responsible’ journalism to inform the process of reality agreement among its viewers.
Did Disclosure: Life on the NHS List:
- help me understand what it feels like to wait longer than I should have to for treatment?
- include examples of people who had been treated within the target times?
- inform me how common it is to wait longer than the target times?
- inform of reasons me why target times are not being met such as increased demand?
- explain any problems with interpreting waiting time statistics?
- give a balanced account based on all of the above?
I’ll be delighted to be proved wrong.