Stupid News Reporting

This is a silly thing. I think the BBC are quite good at reporting the news, but the other day I saw an piece on the telly that I thought was very poor and unfair.

It was about how life expectancy is much higher in the south of England than in the north.

My immediate thought was that this was related to money. People in the posh south-west are almost certainly better off than those in the industrial north, and that money buys them a healthier lifestyle. Pertty simple and, though it raises issues of class and equality, not really a huge revelation.

To try to make their point – and I can’t really remember what the point was, the BBC visited Manchester and somewhere in Dorset to interview people.

But rather than do this in a fair and balanced way they went to a pub in Manchester, to ask people how much they smoke and drink, and then to a gym in Dorset, to ask people about their exercise and eating habits.

Well….errr…..D’uh!!!! Of course you’ll speak to completely different sorts of people in those two different places. And the sorts of responses that you’d get – especially when edited down to get the responses that you WANT to get – are going to be pretty predictable.

On top of that the presenter claimed that people in the North were more “at risk” than those in the south. “At risk”? Of what? Dying? I think you’ll find that that’s something we’re all at risk of I’m afraid, regardless of where we live.

Yes, of course it’s sad that life expectancy is lower in the North and maybe we should look at how we can address that balance. Perhaps we can better redistribute wealth, or try to change our culture somehow. These things are complex!

But I was annoyed and astounded at the way the article had been fiddled to make the point. I shall be watching the news more carefully in future!