"The arms that you wield now are not such as your forefathers wielded; but they are infinitely more effective, and infinitely more irresistable" ~ Cymru Fydd leaflet, 1890

Monday, 13 January 2014

More Reasons to Question the EBC

The Welsh speaking parents of a one year old boy who lives near Bangor were given a prescription in Welsh for medicine for the baby. For whatever reason Morrisons pharmacy refused to dispense it until a translation was obtained. After a delay of a few hours whilst the parents returned to the surgery they finally received the medication but the boy's worsening condition meant he was later taken to A&E.

The prescription that launched a thousand shares (ish). Share via twitter | facebook
There's actually quite a few interesting stories here so I'm not going to focus on the prescription issue because that's been covered by so many media outlets already. Instead I'm going to look at some of the stories within the story.

Don't know where this store is but it's funny. Share via twitter | facebook
The first interesting thing here is that the story broke on facebook when the father of the child posted a photo of the prescription followed by a comment stating that Morrisons wouldn't issue the medication due to the prescription being in Welsh. The photo was shared hundreds of times which led the mainstream media (ITV) to pick up on it. This is something that is happening more and more often. Social media is virtually instant and every single person with an account becomes a publisher and every single person who follows your account or the account of someone who shares your posts is a potential viewer.

As of writing this the original photo has been shared 654 times. According to one study the average number of friends a facebook user has is 190. This gives a potential reach of over 124,000 although realistically I'd halve that figure. Even so that is far more shares than most pro journalists in Wales will get for most of their stories.

The next interesting thing I noticed was that the English language BBC website has operated a complete news blackout of this story. The story and the subsequent protests by Cymdeithas have been heavily featured on the ITV news website. S4C, Radio Cymru and the BBC's Welsh language news site have run the story and interviews with the parents. The Daily Post and Fails Online as well as their parent rag the Mirror have run the story. And get this, even the anti-everything Daily Mail website ran a story on it. Since it is hard to believe here's a link to the Daily Mail story that was shared over a 1000 times.

The awkward moment the Daily Mail gives more coverage to a Welsh language issue than the BBC!
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To illustrate the blackout I created the above picture using screenshots from some of the different news outlets that have covered the story. Of course on the bottom there was no English language news story to take a screen shot of. It appears that the BBC is operating some kind of language apartheid system with their news coverage. How can what is clearly one of the biggest stories in Wales of that week be completely ignored by such a large news website that we pay for. And then, in amongst the comments section of the above picture was a reply by the mother of the child at the centre of the story.

Is the BBC scared to run the story in English? Have they been told not to run the story in English? Are they waiting for the moment to be right? It's completely baffled me why they would pretend it never even happened. It reminded me of when the census figures came out, on the UK and England pages it mentioned the population increase due to immigration. They even featured an interview telling us how the UK doesn't have the infrastructure to cope with the increase. On the Wales page they focused on the language decrease without so much as a mention to the butchers apron wearing elephant in the room even though they had previously shown that 90% of Wales' population was down to UK (English) migration. I'm definitely going to keep my eyes peeled for more selective news stories from the EBC in future.

And then something else interesting happened. And it was another picture that the father shared on the Cymdeithas page on facebook. It was a photo of the Morrisons pharmacy complete with the statement they issued. As I've said, I'm not focusing on the prescription story here, 'most' of the media outlets are looking at that. Instead I'm looking at the stories within the story. And the thing that jumps right out is the part about dual language signage.

Original pic here. Share via twitter | facebook
You'd like to think that before issuing the statement they'd read it through a few times, perhaps sent a copy to the store manager and deputy to read it through and check it was ok. Obviously they didn't. It's hard to take the rest of their statement seriously when they are so blatantly wrong about the dual language signage. Unless they only think that having the food aisles in Welsh and English is important.

And then I remembered a conversation I had with an old campaigner from Gwent, when talking about token gestures to appease the Welsh speakers, he said that having the signs for the aisles in Welsh and English doesn't mean you are winning, you're only winning when you have the label on the cans of beans in both Welsh and English.

No doubt this story will continue with new twists and turns and more interesting sub-plots emerging, but whatever happens one thing is certain, you will not read about it on the English language version of the BBC Wales news website.

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