The Full English – Media narratives

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Recently I’ve pretty much stopped listening to/ watching the news. This is not just down to the ongoing spin-doctoring in the Tory leadership election/ geopolitical elite, which frankly makes me so disenfranchised I feel like burying myself in soft peat.

No, what’s really getting my goat, is the descent of the media into a selection of soundbite opinions amongst a race to be first on the scene to a news story. This is even at the expense of editorial correctness or narrative structure. There’s a few exceptions to this: certain broadsheets (The Guardian, The FT, The Independent) appear to still be pursing the long read investigative journalism route. On the whole, and with finger squarely pointed at the BBC, the media seems to constantly be chasing a story first circulated on Twitter/ Reddit. In the days of social media, everyone is the first reporter on the scene. They share online, and whatever gets shared gets picked up, even if it runs counter to the print media’s planned direction. The print media then has to sprint to keep up, and has to include irrelevant people’s opinions to appear relevant to the common man. What does the common man think about this niche piece of technical news of which he has no understanding?

Case in point one: The NHS and Doctors’ pensions.

I’ve written about this before, as it hits close to home. Mr YFG did a far better job at explaining the technicalities, and the ins and outs of the Lifetime Allowance (1, 2). The nub of the issue is that many consultants are breaching the LTA when working extra shifts to make-up for the shortfall in NHS staff. Yes they’re paid well, but because these extra shifts, which the NHS requires in order to meet targets like the 2-week-wait for cancer referrals, are over the LTA the effective tax rate can be >100% for the shift. They’re effectively paying to work extra hours. Rather than working the extra hours they’re opting out. So the NHS is short-staffed. Which it has been for years, partly due to the hostile working environment created by the current government (despite their rhetoric). The Financial Times has been reporting very clearly on this for months, and within the health service Doctors’ reps (e.g. the BMA) have been banging on about it all year (3, 4). So why can’t the Guardian get its head round it? The article they’ve put out in the last week is titled something about “working to rule”, with a tagline:

“Doctors warn health services in danger of meltdown and facing ‘existential threat’” (5)

They can’t seem to decide where to take the piece. How do they make it relevant? Oh, I know, lets make it about the Tories dooming the NHS… ish. With a bit of confusing information about potential solutions for good measure. They can’t just report it with explanations. There has to be an angle. And they can’t compete with the likes of the Daily Mail, who appear to be on a one-way crusade against those vicious, spiteful, mean doctors. After all ‘waiting lists have doubled in three months as doctors refuse to work’ (6). How could they refuse to pay to work, to pay to take on responsibility for people’s lives (7). See here; Steve the welder from Leeds interviewed as a bloke off the street stating doctors should be forced to work. Why hell does Steve’s opinion matter?

Case in point two: PCP contracts on cars

I included two links to this last week. My god it does my nut. If you can’t afford a fancy car with simple maths, why the hell do you expect to get one when the maths is more complicated? Despite this there’s a slew of whinging Karens’ in the media, complaining that they were sold things they can’t afford (8). That they didn’t understand their contract (9, 10). Why is that anybody’s responsibility other than your own? A fool and his/her money are easily parted.

Ohh righhtttt, people don’t like being told they’re fools. Especially when sharks wearing lawyer suits are telling them that they’re owed compo, backed up by tit-rags (11). Because as the PPI gravy train ends those sharks are looking for a fresh meal, and they follow idiots to mis-selling like blood to an injured baby seal (12). They’ve already missed out once, when they waited with baited breath for the FCA to adjudicate mis-selling (13). All they got was tighter regs. Now they’ll be damned if they can’t find another way to that mis-selling cold-call (14). Never mind the fact it’s just people being idiots. I’ve talked before about how I think PCP is the next financial bubble, despite whatever wonky statistics the car industry share (15). In my opinion, the mouth-breathing hordes clamouring for compo because they can’t afford their finance deal are just the storm-clouds on the horizon. The fact the media follows their narrative of misery is just one more reason for my loss of respect.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

P.S. A bit late getting this out, what a day of sport!

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.



One thought on “The Full English – Media narratives

  1. Thanks for the kind words! I’ll confess I almost lost my sh*t with the guardian piece. It’s immensely frustrating to see so much hard work on this issue almost get sunk by such sloppy, lazy (and deliberately misleading?) journalism.

    Funnily enough, 9 months ago, at a public event, I asked Jo Cumbo (the author of the excellent FT pieces on the NHS crisis) what can we do about the media getting pensions so wrong and sometimes wilfully misleading the public to sell copy (something had got my goat at the time, can’t remember what). Her response was that it’s our duty to keep repeating the facts and the truth will get through. Thanks in big part to her work, we’re getting there with the idiotic tapered annual allowance.

    So safe to say, the media will be the media.

    Liked by 1 person

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