Balanced, Accurate, Unbiased? What’s Happened To The British Press

smoking-and-asthma
“You cannot hope to bribe or twist thank God! The British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.” – Humbert Wolfe

I’m as angry as a Tasmanian Devil about THIS STORY today which again only presents one side.

As a journalist, I despair that my esteemed professional colleagues are happy to be spoon fed this information without question and so is Simon Clark over at Taking Liberties.

A quick click on Simon’s link to Chris Snowdon’s post and the methodology used here is unravelled and debunked. When the discredited Pell says she “smoothed” the data, I assume she meant that she stretched the truth to make the “evidence” fit the cause.

Chris explains the true position: “… we can see that childhood asthma rates were not rising before the ban and the only evidence for even a vague drop since the ban comes from the incomplete ten-month ‘year’ of 2009—several years after the ban came in. And, again, we can see that the peak year for asthma hospitalisations came in 2006—the very year that the smoking ban came into effect, which—by the logic of the study—should have seen a large drop in admissions.”

Freedom2Choose (Scotland) also makes nice work of understanding how Pell pulled off this confidence trick.

The other piece of news that makes me want to rant today is this biased piece that again shows no balance. Why didn’t the reporter mention the Facebook group that attracted thousands of people who DO want smoking back in pubs? Why didn’t the reporter check other pages that are pro-choice? They’ve existed far longer than than this quit smoking page with 120 members but not a single column inch has been written to promote them.

I’m also fed up with that clichéd “kick the habit” line. This has traditionally been used to describe those giving up heroin because heroin withdrawal does cause spasms that can make someone “kick” involuntarily. This doesn’t happen to smokers and we don’t get these physical symptoms when we quit tobacco – a herb, not a drug!

The use of this term seems designed to paint smokers as hopeless and “pathetic” addicts and I wish editors and reporters would think before using it.

But thank God for at least one common sense voice among today’s anti-smoking hysteria.

I know only too well how much pressure journalists are under today, how much work they are bogged down with,the effect of staff cuts, new technology, having to get through a huge workload each and every day that is always too long. But they should always keep in sight their honour to make their reports balanced, accurate and unbiased.

I can only hope that when the ugly and untrue miracle child asthma story rears it’s head again, as I am sure it will, the journalists will at least pick up the phone and attempt to get the other side.

My passion for the pro-choice cause is well known and there are times when I face the smoking issue as a journalist and I tend to react this way. I’m too involved to be impartial which I have a duty to be so I pass the story on even though I’m busting to challenge it.

As an opinionated blogger I can please myself. Rage at the treatment of smokers, the manipulation of science to support an ideological agenda, and the largely prejudicial, dismissive and exclusive attitude of my professional colleagues in the press is why I do it.

Free speech is still legal in the UK and until it is outlawed I will exercise it here if I am prevented from doing so in more traditional media outlets.

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