Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Why can't we have more of this in the media?

We really like the i newspaper. For one thing it doesn't cost an arm and a leg (20p weekdays, 30p Saturdays); for another it doesn't weigh a ton or represent a small forest, just a small tabloid format; for a third, its editorial approach is "independent"; for a fourth, it has a good page of puzzles, like crosswords, sodukos, codewords to keep our minds active. I don't think it makes a profit for its owner. It deserves to, and deserves to be better known. After all, the other newspapers from The Times downwards are increasingly full of rubbish.

Anyway, on Saturday, Jane pointed out a major article to me:
Bram Harrison, with journalist Nina Lakhani (Independent photo)

Locked in but still lost in music: UK's bravest DJ
. It's about Bram Harrison, a chap who had a mountain bike accident 14 years ago, suffering a severe head injury which left him "locked in", able only to communicate by eye-movement. He is known as DJ Eye Tech on his own radio show, Eye Life Radio. Here's part of the article: "Several years ago a doctor asked him what they should do if, for whatever reason, his heart stopped. In other words, would he want to be resuscitated or should they let him die? He looked up immediately. He wanted to live then, just as he wants to live now.
His desire for a long, healthy, meaningful life may strike some as surprising. Another man with locked-in syndrome, Tony Nicklinson, 57 – stricken since a 2005 stroke – has made headlines in recent weeks as he took his fight for the right to die to the High Court.
Nicklinson's plight has attracted a lot of empathy as many people assume they would feel the same way: that a locked-in life is not worth living.
This makes Harrison angry. 'In the early days two nurses that I overheard talking said that I would not last long and that I would kill myself, but I knew that would never happen.'
In an email a few days before we meet, Harrison said: 'I've definitely not got the same view as Tony Nicklinson. I don't want people to think that locked-in syndrome is unbearable. I enjoy my rather limited life.'" The article ends: "There have been many low points but he has never felt hopeless. 'I don't want my relatives to see Tony Nicklinson and think that's how I feel,' he says."

The article is worth reading, because it isn't the picture projected by most of the media. About a year ago, BBC's Radio 5 broadcast the whole of the Victoria Derbyshire programme from Tony Nicklinson's home. And the Beeb have been back several times since, including with me. No one would want to be in his situation and I don't in the least blame him for his desire to die. Admittedly he's gone to the High Court since then to ask if someone can be allowed to end his life without it being murder. But that wasn't in the news a year ago.

My question is where was, and is, the national coverage of Michelle Wheatley, the young mum whom I mentioned in I Choose Everything, and Gary Parkinson, who scouts for Middlesborough FC, and now Bram Harrison, all of whom have locked-in syndrome and want to live. I don't have the resources of the BBC, but I've come across them and written about them. Why do we not hear from the national broadcaster about them? As a friend of mine commented, "Hope other news sources run this too - to prove they're not biased!" I don't think they have - as yet. I've found three positives to one negative. Even the worst of disabilities can be, and is, lived positively. So I say, good for The i! And for goodness' sake prove your independence, BBC! Let's hear about them. Let's see them.


  1. Spot on, Mike. and thank you for keeping us abreast of the bigger picture. We certainly can't trust others to do so.

    1. Thanks, Anon. Feel free to recommend it!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Michael. I've come to think of the BBC as biased. I'm pro-life and oppose assisted suicide, but as I'm not terminally ill or disabled, I can't really say what it's like for people who are. I do like to think that all life has hope and is always worth living. Bram Harrison is an example to us all, as are you.

    I believe it is the strong people who choose life, and they show society just how precious life is. In just one day, a lot can be achieved.

    Thanks again, God bless.

    ~ Stephen