One of the biggest topics of 2013 in the UK and possibly the most covered topic of 2014 so far is benefits. More specifically in 2013 the coverage was set around ‘welfare tourism’ – a topic where the press took an emotional rather than objective approach to until it was revealed to be smoke and mirrors. The show Benefits Street neatly demonises and categorises benefit claimers in a single group, contributing to the ‘hatred’ against people on benefits and spongers off society.
The story itself is like candy for the press. The public eat the stories whole, because the fact that, even if it is a minority, has access to THEIR tax money makes people mad – and it does seem like we have developed a
You can argue left and right about the medias ethical standpoint in covering this topic, but putting that aside I would like to ask the question – Are they disregarding their responsibility by focussing so much of their energy and news space on this?
I would argue that the benefits topic is a result of an extreme amount of spin from politicians to fill a debate with emotional values as opposed to something that has tangible news value – for example the extreme waste of taxpayer money in sectors such as defence budget and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
An example given of how the taxpayers money are thrown away on PFI is that a new hospital might cost £50m to build, but instead of the government doing this themselves they have a private contractor build it and then the government leases the space, resulting in costs several times more than the cost if the government built the hospital themselves.
Or how the railways make huge profits of the public since privitasation, but has resulted in poorer service and connections, which much higher prices – recently I took a trip to London which cost me £140 since I didn’t book it in good time.
Shouldn’t the media cover how government spending is out of control and not in the best interest of the public and is it unethical to demonise a single group who can be seen as misusing a otherwise safety net paid through tax money.
Comment below, and thanks for reading.