The media’s use of expertise
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A letter in the July edition of “The Psychologist” responds to this review. The writer explains that he has made several radio and TV appearances, and warns that “the media always have an agenda! Whether dealing with a director, producer or journalist, they will have already decided what direction they want the programme to go in, what they want from you, and how they want to present you, the contributor... As the producers of the programme have the editorial control, their agenda will always take prominence”.
To be fair, the letter-writer goes on to say that programme makers are usually prepared to disclose and even discuss their agenda, if asked; and suggests that any expert psychologist invited to appear on television should make a point of doing just that, and refuse involvement if it seems that his or her contribution is going to be distorted or discarded, or indeed if the programme itself is likely to involve unethical activity of any sort.
The message to be extracted from all this by viewers and listeners is: suspect bias in all documentaries. You are not seeing what the experts, enthusiastic about their own subject, would like to pass on to you; you are seeing a patchwork of pictures and comments, each taken out of the context in which it belongs, and designed to make you feel complacent, or comfortably superior, or self-righteously indignant, or simply amused, - anything just so long as you will switch on again for the next documentary programme and boost the viewing figures.By prayer crusader under the patronage of St. Teresa of Avila.