Written by Media, Politics, Radio

Alcohol And The Media

There’s a widely reported story today about a report examining how alcohol is covered in the media. In particular the perceived glamourisation of excessive drinking by radio DJs such as Chris Moyles.
You can read coverage at the BBC News site, and in all the papers (here are links to the story in The Guardian and the Telegraph).
An interesting and worthwhile story? Undoubtedly. But the critic in me would quite like to see the full report. It’s not that I don’t trust the reporters the papers and news organisations allocated to the story, but, err, I don’t always. For example, Chris Moyles is repeatedly mentioned but there’s no mention of, say, Christian O’Connell or Johnny Vaughan. Now that might be because they’re exemplary models of restraint who don’t glamourise excessive drinking. Or it might be because the report didn’t cover them. Yet we read that “Commercial radio stations were worse offenders than the BBC.”
In fact, according to the Telegraph’s piece:
The study focused on BBC Radio 1, BBC 1Xtra, Kiss 101 broadcasting to the South West and Wales, Key 103 for Greater Manchester, Galaxy Birmingham and Kerrang! Radio for the West Midlands.
But that fact doesn’t appear in most of the reports. That’s why I wanted to read the full document. I know that what actually has happened is that a press release for the report has been sent out, and most stories are probably generated from that. The report’s author Professor Norma Daykin will have been available for interview, and that’ll differentiate the reports. Finally, the report itself may have been sent to journalists, but how many do you really think read it all the way through?
That’s why I’d like to read it for myself. The BBC site doesn’t include it, and neither do stories at the other papers’ sites I’ve looked at. The research was carried out at the University of the West of England, but their website reveals no obvious links. The research was funded by the Department of Health, but again I had no luck finding it online there. It’s part of the Know Your Limits campaign conducted in association with the Home Office. No luck there at either or the two websites I found – your guess is as good as mine as to why there are two.
The report is being presented o the British Sociological Association in Brighton, I read, but once again, an online search is fruitless aside from an abstract (P12 of this Word document).
The reason I want to see the report is that it’s important to understand how much audio was listened to over what period (e.g. Was it carried out over the Christmas period? Answer: Yes – from December to February according to the Telegraph piece, but then they had a medical reporter rather than a media reporter cover the story). I’ve mentioned the issue regarding stations monitored and they’ve obviously concentrated on youth orientated services. But they ignored Scotland and Northern Ireland which might have thrown up different results for example.
The internet allows us to be able to present primary material and given that this research was state-funded, it should be easily available for us all to download and read. It shouldn’t just be kept to attendees of academic conferences, and published in expensive journals or online in locked academic databases.