Quality control of media reportsIn relation to the reporting of illicit drugs, I am trying to look at the how and why much of what is reported is inaccurate, particularly relating to the dangers and risks of drugs and their use.
Specifically, I am looking at the various `quality control' mechanisms that the media use to ensure
accuracy of reporting. Preliminary findings show that there are in fact almost no satisfactory means in place to ensure accuracy of reporting.
Recourse to `experts' such as the police, health workers, GPs and drug service workers seems to be heavily relied on. However, such individuals are rarely experts on drugs (they just work with people who use them - this is not quite the same thing), speculate wildly, and do not have access to the relevant literature. Sometimes for example someone who is an expert in one area will be asked to speculate on another. As a consequence, mechanisms for `checking' accuracy provide an appearance of quality control but are often nothing of the sort. A further problem relates to the fact that reporters will often only check specific points with these experts. A lot of what is written and assumed to be unproblematic (common knowledge) is in fact misleading and unsubstantiated.
Principal Lecturer in Sociology
School of Social Sciences
University of Greenwich