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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Thursday, 21 January 2010

A tiny example of why the fight against the neopros is not futile

Look, that change of subject is coming soon I promise - I've got an IPA and fish and chip matching lunch later today - but I've got to tell you this.

Yesterday I had an off-the-record email chat with the BBC News website. I can't go into details but I can confirm that their misleading reporting of "alcohol kills 40,000 a year" and "drinking costs the economy £55bn a year" has been amended in existing articles and will not appear as 'fact' again unless a lot more proof emerges that they are, in fact, facts. (The death figure is now quoted as an 'estimate' and the £55bn figure has been replaced.)

Please do challenge distorted reporting where you see it - I've gone to such great lengths to put all this data at your disposal so you can do this with authority if you feel the urge.

Some media outlets do have an anti-drink agenda of their own.

Others just print what they think will sell newspapers.

But many simply have no reason to disbelieve data sent to them from a supposedly reliable source, and have neither the time nor the space to mount their own thorough analysis.

As with when the Mail suddenly cut many of the false statements from a piece last year, our feedback can make a difference - to online news at least.

6 comments:

denzil said...

The problem is that there are too many news organisations battling to be the first to recycle some lobby group or politician's press release. Journalism doesn't enter into it.

On Sept 10, the day before the twin towers atrocity, bbc radio headline news was the contents of a speech "Mr Blair will deliver tomorrow". How is that news? It is patently somebody's press release being served up as fact and it hasn't even happened yet. In actual fact it never did happen. It seems more importance is placed on getting the news first than on getting it right.

We need to be alert for consensus within the political/media establishment. There are bigger issues than beer where some total nonsense is being swallowed hook, line and sinker and the main evidence offered to back it up is that there is now a consensus.

Your examination of the beer scare story is a very rare example of proper journalism these days. You are to be applauded for it. Please keep it up Pete. I can't think of a bette use of your status as beer writer of the year. Come to that I can't think of a better justification of it either.

ZakAvery said...

That's great work Pete. I've referenced your work on this (and plugged your blog) in Off Licence News this week, so that should flag up the facts for a few more parties who should be paying attention.

I wonder if it's worth making direct links to the articles from the top of your blog? Say, where the poll is at present?

Melissa Cole said...

Well done mate, I wish I was as good at examining and disseminating the data as you - these have been excellent posts.

Anonymous said...

Its a little disturbing to find out how easy it is to get Bullshit put through organisations like the the BBC because if its happening with this ,its happening with everything else.People joke about 80% of stats being made up ,the jokes even worse,its probably all of them.
Why can't things be simpler, leave pubs alone for a start,they are closing down at an alarming rate and selling less than ever,so they cannot therefore be leading to an increased alcohol problem.
Infact just stop wasting money on incorrect theories and try and sort out more important social issues like the widening gap between rich and poor.

Alan said...

But are we any closer to knowing how many people alcohol kills a year or how much drinking costs the economy?

Justin Roberts said...

They needed you on Newsnight a few nights back, not Clarissa Dickson Wright and Michael Winner who obviously didn't have a clue.