Bring out your dead! Reporting Scotland’s plague on journalism


‘Infection control measures here in Scotland are among the best in Europe but it’s impossible to completely guarantee that hospitals are safe.’

That is of course, the headline we should be hearing and it’s a truth closer to the shared experience and information needs of most viewers but by that time, the damage had been done with:

‘Around 10% of health care infections detected over the past three years are likely to be linked to NHS buildings.’

How informed do we feel after hearing that? Is 10% a lot? Is it lower than elsewhere? Is it falling over time? How likely is likely?

‘A flagship hospital with some serious health problems.’

Are they serious – 3 deaths where a hospital-acquired infection may have been a contributory factor (only)? Not one person died because of a health problem posed by the building. Not one. Tabloid journalism.

‘48 incidents may have originated in NHS buildings.’

Once more, without context, we have no idea what to make of that figure. Tabloid journalism.

There is no real health care crisis here. A politically motivated media feeding frenzy initiated by the courtiers at the state broadcaster has constructed a classic moral panic out of unremarkable, statistically insignificant events and, with the help of dodgy opposition politicians, forced the Scottish Government to act as if they were significant or face accusations of complacency.

I’m reminded of Ian Stronach’s line:

‘Shouting ‘Theatre!’ in a crowded fire’





3 thoughts on “Bring out your dead! Reporting Scotland’s plague on journalism

  1. gavin March 20, 2019 / 11:44 am

    I noticed that on the Holyrood Committee hearing, BBC Where U Ur (usually “Scotland” is in London these days) showed a Tory, Lib Dumb and Labour politician.

    I think its called “product placement”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald March 20, 2019 / 10:45 pm

      Including Mr Lewis Macdonald of the Labour Party looking gravely serious.


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