Media spotting patterns when it suits them
Newspapers are notoriously bad at spotting patterns. Perhaps you can do better.
On Tuesday, courtesy of the Daily Mail’s Manila correspondent, we were treated to a piece of the most appalling racist polemic. Yesterday, the same paper dished up out and out silence on the roots of VIP child abuse.
Compare, contrast – and weep!
Earlier this week, Victorino Chua received 25 life sentences and a minimum 35 years prison sentence for poisoning some 22 victims at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital, during his time there as a nurse.
According to his lawyers, Chua is considering an appeal: but absent the appearance of some extraordinary new evidence, it does appear that police and prosecuting authorities have removed from circulation an incredibly dangerous person. Result!
Meanwhile, assorted papers, including the DM, were reporting the fact that more than 1,400 men - including TV stars, politicians, and musicians - have been investigated over historic child sex abuse allegations since the Savile case burst into public awareness.
So far so good. We are still in factual territory, including the fact, reported by most papers, that Mr Chua is a Filipino. Which is presumably why Tuesday’s paper ran a piece on how – shock! horror! – the NHS is “STILL hiring Filipino nurses despite Victorino Chua scandal”.
What is the world coming to? We now have evidence that out of some 23,000 Filipino nurses working in the UK, as many as, er, ONE, turns out to be a murderer! Clearly this is grounds for halting all new recruitment and, probably, sending home those already here.
Strangely, no similar lessons were being drawn in 2000 after it was discovered that a Nottingham born GP had been murdering his patients in similarly dedicated fashion. Even though the number of GP’s from Nottingham is likely significantly fewer than 23,000.
Meanwhile, what of those 1400 alleged sex offenders? The story is reported in serious and measured terms. Police are concerned about the rise in numbers. Chief Constable Simon Bailey ruminates wisely on whether this is about more cases occurring – or just more being reported. There is speculation over whether the internet is to blame. Another bloke, Tom Watson MP, weighs in with his opinions.
Of course it is scarcely the fault of either Simon Bailey or Tom Watson that the paper decided to obtain comment on this issue exclusively from men. Or that the same paper that appears to believe a one in 23,000 incidence of murder is a pattern, considers 1400 allegations of abuse by men is not.
Allow me to help: 1400 allegations across an adult male population of approx. 20 million is an incidence of one in 15,000. Which is a darn sight more significant, in every sense of the word, than one in 23,000. (I used to be a statistician, you know).
And if the sex abuse story was reported consistently, then it would not be unreasonable to expect headlines such as: NHS/BBC/parliament still employing men, despite child abuse scandal.
I jest: it would be totally unreasonable not to employ men. That should, of course, read “employing men without chaperones”.
I’ll end with an apology to anyone who thinks i am making light of this issue. That really is the last thought on my mind. But faced with such impossible, incredible double standards, sometimes bleak humour is the only possible response.
For yet again, a media that seems all too capable of spotting a pattern where none exists seems incapable of spotting one where their core and cherished demographic – white, male, middle-class – is concerned.
And that, in itself, is a pattern that needs to change. Because until it does - until those with power begin to name the real problem - nothing else will.