The BBC isn’t noted for running stories that the alcohol trade doesn’t like. So I was surprised to see a feature on it this week referring to a sharp decline in the number of young Britons consuming alcohol.
Surely, the trade wouldn’t approve this kind of publicity?
And it’s rather unlikely that the BBC has enough assurance to risk displeasing a trade with considerable clout. What then, could be afoot? I like to believe that the alcohol trade’s interests aren’t carefully considered in the obligatory self censorship that all staff in major media enterprises probably exercise these days. But that’s too much wishful thinking. The real reason is probably that this item slipped in, under the radar – and may already have attracted the tiniest of reproofs.
Why wouldn’t the alcohol trade like this story?
First, because people don’t like bad news about them being publicized – and the major alcohol manufacturers too are people, after all, according to current legal definition. Second, trades should want to keep negative trends under wraps, for fear that attention can accelerate the unwelcome drift. But there is worse here than this. The whole flavor of the article is wrong, especially the headline, ‘The rise of the young non-drinkers’ (ugh). Who on earth chose words suggesting strength, referring to celebrated wimps? Something’s going seriously awry in the kingdom.
Most troubling though is that the article doesn’t cheapen its essential finding through diversionary fudge, to nicely ‘balance’ things. And the testimony that it chooses to quote demonstrates that the ‘rising’ youth aren’t swearing off alcohol for some religious or other arcane reason, but simply because they didn’t like the stuff.
How on earth did such apostasy get this public airing?