Friday, 26 February 2010

Media bias?

About a year ago I was rung by Mark Cato, who lives near Cambridge. He has MND and wanted advice on starting a blog - from me! He's ended up with an all-singing, all-dancing site, and 1000s of hits. Recently, I read, he gave an interview to a local journalist to get it more publicity but the article ended up highlighting his intention to end his life, when the time comes, surrounded with his family enjoying a bottle of Bollinger. He's a bit dischuffed about the emphasis given to assisted suicide - which of course reached the nationals. Of course he shouldn't have been surprised.

I've been reflecting on the way the media, and strangely the BBC in particular, seem much more interested in stories supporting the case for assisted suicide than those opposing it. Of course it's easier to tell heart-wrenching stories of the 'you wouldn't let it happen to a dog' sort than I've taken the decision to die in a hospice sort. Even if you balance up comment, there's no getting away from the power of story, and especially enacted story. That's why Jesus the great teacher used parables and actions so much. How many documentaries or dramas have you seen on TV about people who've decided not to end their own lives? I can think of two 3-minute clips in programmes where they felt like token gestures. Compare that with the coverage given to Debbie, Panorama, Dimbleby lecture, A Short Stay in Switzerland... It looks like editorial decisions are taken by people who take the aptness of assisted suicide for granted. I'm waiting for a reply to a letter I wrote to Mark Thompson on the subject. I'll be interested in what he says.

This afternoon, on a more positive note, we're off to the local MND Association meeting in Oxford - about disabled-friendly gardening! It will be nice to see some of our friends again. And then... France v Wales rugby!


  1. Hi Michael.
    I note your critisism of journo,s and particully at the BBC.I,m sure there is a fashion developing about the story of assisted suicide.The six oclock news is becoming so biased ,the notion of editing is becoming a joke,as for the local news , knit a teddy, it will get on!!

  2. Yes, Norman. Why can't they have films of people with MND living fulfilled lives. There are some, aren't there? Like my friend John who died last year.

  3. There was a very good Radio 4 programme on the Dignitas clinic. I note that it's still available on the R4 website: