I've just seen a report on The One Show tonight all about wheelchairs and taxis. It has to be one of the most biased, mis-leading reports I've seen in a long time!
Before I start my little rant and explanation as to why it is so bad, I'd just like to point out that I do not discriminate, I believe in equal opportunities for all and I certainly have no biased opinions of my own. I'm simply stating my own opinions as to what the report said and claimed.
The story itself was all about how taxis treat wheelchair users unfairly. According to the presenter, they over charge wheelchair users for taxis and there aren't enough wheelchair friendly companies who will drive disabled people. Bit of a fairly controversial topic, but an interesting one all the same.
Firstly, the presenter herself, as lovely as she was, clearly had her own pre-vetted attitudes about the topic. She was in a wheelchair and though it shouldn't be an issue, it was clear the topic had a place in her heart due to her disability. The questions she asked seemed to encourage her anger and support her own personal point rather than asking unbiased questions for a fairer argument. She would have gained much more respect and better answers if she had taken a back seat and asked those questions that didn't reflect her own bias.
For example, one of the questions she asked is "Why do taxi drivers up their prices?" Firstly, there was little evidence that all taxi companies did but the he explained how that for a wheelchair taxi it costs in the region of 20 - 30K whilst a normal taxi will be about 7K. Fair enough from my point of view. The price was justified as far as I was concerned as to make even on their money, he has to charge more to support the run of the vehicle. But that wasn't enough and she further pushed him by saying "Do you think it's fair? You're discriminating", making a point at the end of the question. Natural reaction of course is no, because people don't want to be seen that they're discriminating and in all honesty, I think the "discrimination" she mentions has just been justified. They need to make a living at the end of the day. They could have made a firmer point by researching how many people in wheelchairs actually use taxi's for one - if there isn't the clientele for wheelchair friendly taxis, then why should they pay out for these expensive taxis if they're not being used?
She further went on about how it would be better if grants could be offered to allow the taxis to afford the wheelchair access vehicles... If they'd researched how many grants are already granted to disabled people, such as helping to fund their own cars or cars for their carers to drive, then they may have found that the majority of disabled people have their own transportation. This of course may be down to the lack of disabled taxis but also down to the fact that they're using the grants already up for grabs, such as access to automatic cars that they can drive themselves.
Similarly, even the presenters (though I do love Matt and Fearne) asked leading questions such as "It must be very frustrating for you?" of course it would be.. She's hardly likely to say no when 'clearly' there is unfair treatment. Instead, they should have asked "How does it make you feel?". Leading questions provoke leading answers and that just helps to make the whole discussion very one sided. Who was there to defend the people that this presenter had just attacked? Answer: No one. Again, supporting the one-sided viewpoint.
There was little evidence of outside research, it was all conducted by this one presenter with her questions already aiming to achieve the answers linked to her own opinions. She clearly feels that taxis are discriminating against wheelchairs but has she done her research to support that rather than basing it on her own experiences? I felt so sorry for the taxi guy who she interviewed who defended his reasons quite well but clearly felt uncomfortable with her questioning. It looked almost like an interrogation!
I'm disappointed. The ethics of the BBC include being un-bias and fair with their reports and they've clearly let this one slip. Just goes to show that if someone has a specific opinion, they will exploit that in the way that makes other people look bad without justification. They could have done outside research of statistics such as finding out about opportunities of grants and transportation that the government already offer disabled people (and I know a few of those due to my own friends and family). They should have used these statistics to balance the argument that she was so fiercely fighting for and maybe asked disabled people their own views about it. Instead, it was the presenter going solo and her interviewers seemed in distress by her blunt accusations.
Discrimination works two ways in my books. I believe she needs to look at the facts rather than let personal opinion and bias's become involved. That's what makes a good and valid report and therefore good journalism.