I know that, but why

Journalism has lost the detail to back its argument - Why?


Mr Michael Cobb

2021-07-19 2 min read

Over the weekend I’ve been seriously unimpressed by the way the media has been reporting COVID and the bizarrely named “Freedom Day” in the UK. Not in the arguments, in the detail

I was hoping that the reporting I was watching would take a point of view and then explain to me why it was a bad idea, with facts context and maybe a bit of data thrown in.

It isn’t like there hasn’t been coverage of each view. There has been various doctors, scientists and politicians being interviewed and they all give their point of view. Here’s the rub though, they are talking in generalities like “hospitals will be overwhelmed. Or they say that the death rate is lower than the flu.

But generalities are what the uninformed use to carry their argument. I hope when I see a TV interview or read an article that there will be detail to help me understand the situation.

Where is the detail describing the problem in hospitals is the lack of specialist nursing staff, rather than beds. That since last March the NHS has now all the ventilators it needs and physical beds.

Or the detail of the counter argument, that there are less deaths per thousand cases than if you caught flu or that historic physical contact has been known for months as not a cause of spreading COVID.

After 16 months or more of the pandemic I know the basics, they've been reported incessantly. The detail is what will sway me now, but its just not being reported widely.

I have noticed this a lot over the past few years. As a former wannabe war reporter I’ve been shocked at the terrible level of explanation on the wars of the Middle East and Asia. For example if refugees are still fleeing Syria (they are) why is that if Daesh has been “defeated”.

What seems to have been happening is that editors have decided we’re all a bit too thick to understand the detail - or they are, I’m still unsure on that one – and therefore we’re going to get extended highlights of the argument and it’s up to us to try and work it out from there.

I may have been taught to write to the lowest denominator when I was studying journalism but that was in the use of language. At some point there must have been a collective decision that what that actually meant was in the content.

When did this happen? Because I personally think it’s a substantial failure of the third estate to hold government and society to account. Without explaining why they are right or wrong in detail how are we to make an informed decision on what to do or believe?

The only bit that seems to have remained is the obsession with putting someone’s age just after their name, which in case you’re wondering was originally to give context to why that person may have made the choice they did.

Detail is important. Without it its just a blur of bad information and poor decision making.

Incidentally I have no comment on if Monday is a good idea or not. That is not the point of this post. It is simple about where has the detail of an argument in the press. I shouldn’t have to go to the NHS website or the UN for the war in Yemen to find out why.

Mike Cobb Copywriter

Cobb Communications Ltd.

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