By Leon A Smith
May 3, 2012
Panorama once again turned its attention to an expose of malpractice/abuse in a care home. This seems to be a particular interest of Panorama and indeed the exposure of malpractice and mistreatment in a care home setting can only lead hopefully to tighter controls and minimise the chance of something like this ever happening again.
Once again, I am returning to an oft visited theme: Why is it that we only ever see programmes about poor practice? Why are there never programmes about good practice? Why is it that TV producers and commissioners are so convinced that only bad news stories make good television? Not that this phenomena is of course exclusive to the media or television, with the print media being equally guilty.
Good practice in the care home sector and in the care of older people is happening in homes up and down the country, every day 365 days a year. Yet how rare is it that we will ever read of this in either the national media and/or see this happening on television?
There is one place where we often read of excellent good practice in the media and that’s in the Trade press. There are a number of professional magazines catering for the care sector where homes vie with each other for publicity for their own good news stories – there is never any shortage of them. Innovative projects in terms of new care models, in terms of original and exciting activities, new build projects, awards for staff and so on and so forth.
Yet as I mentioned this is confined to the Trade press where effectively it is only those working in the “Trade” (forgive the word) who are reading this. It’s a classic case of preaching to the converted. What we need to do is find a way to bring to the attention of the general public some of the positive stories which are happening in the care sector.
It is difficult to attract media interest because the media appear to perceive that “good news is no news”. Would people really stop buying newspapers if the papers were full of some good news stories? Would people not turn on to TV documentaries if they have positive themes? It’s hard to believe that this could indeed be the case.
It tells us something about the media setting the agenda – the media which claims to represent its users or readers. We all know how powerful the media is and perhaps this is an inappropriate place to labour this point! (Indeed I must say that the Jewish Chronicle is one of the few newspapers that I read which does actually celebrate the good things that are happening as well as some of the more unfortunate things that go on in our world).
Newspapers and television claim to react to what their public are telling them they want to hear. I wonder if indeed this is always the case and have we not got to a point now where the media is simply too powerful?
For those of you who are interested in football as I am (it looks like Bristol Rovers are going to be finishing in 13th position in Division 2), the story of the appointment of the new England manager is an excellent example of media hype. By putting the prospect of the appointment of Harry Redknapp to such an extent that it would have been reasonable for anybody to have concluded that there was only one candidate – and that it was 100% sure that he was going to get the job. He didn’t get the job! Roy Hodgson got the job instead. Indeed, they didn’t even speak to Harry Rednapp. This in itself is a good news story – which showed that the FA had the strength of character and determination not to go with the media’s choice but to go with the candidate they felt was more suitable for the job. It would good to see similar acts of resistance to media hype in other sectors of our lives.