Monday, February 01, 2010

Welcome Back Breakfast Politics!

Gerard Henderson in his Media Watch Dog has noted that a number of media types have returned from their WEB. He notes that it seems to only be media people who get "Well Earned Breaks" - while the rest of us take vacations (or holidays - but they usually extend beyond the religious festivities and are shared by people of all, and indeed no, faith).

One back today is Breakfast Politics which is an easily digested precis of all the political news, and a blogger's dream! Christine Wallace who composes it took a particularly long WEB - basically the same as the pollies. I suspect she may have been busy finishing a thesis though.

And there is a lot to read today, mostly about the new political year, and what a friend calls reporting politics as either a "horse race or celebrity." The question the media asks is not what Tony Abbott stands for but whether he can sell himself. (This is a segue to a posy about "metrics" that I need to make). Or, its the"celebrity" piece of Tony, Paris Hilton-esque, photographed in his swimmers.

But I want to ignore all that and just note two pieces of "'der' journalism". This is my term for when a newspaper reports something as if it is breathtaking news that isn't.

The first is a report of research by Choice that suggests that consumers don't get much out of supermarket loyalty programs. It notes, as if this is news, that "schemes used by Coles and Woolworths offered less than a $1 return from every $100 spent". So let's be clear, they are telling us the loyalty schemes don't amount to a 1% discount. Did we know that? Well, yes because the terms and conditions are pretty clear.

The pity is that that is no reason to avoid them as a shopper. You see, if you are the only shopper not on the scheme you are the only person not getting the discount. Now the purpose of the loyalty scheme isn't to reduce profit, so the "benefit" of the scheme must be funded by the other shoppers. So as the only person on the scheme you would be funding everyone else. Of course, if EVERYONE joins the scheme, no one is funding it - but then again in the long run no one is paying the list price either. The you get to what could be called the "jewellery store syndrome" where everything is always on sale below a barely existant list price.

The second story suggests that medical training "fails to prepare" new doctors. It goes on to suggest that medical supervisors find interns skills "fall below expectations" and that surveys of final-year medical graduates show that only about a third think they know adequately how to treat wounds and calculate medicine dosages. Hello! The reason we require the new grad to go spend two years in a hospital under close supervision is because you simple can't learn all this stuff from book learning with a few practicums. Even once you get through that now you need a further two year training program to be a GP.

Possibly more worrying s the fact that a third of final-year students might be over cocky about how much they do know. (And equally worrying is the delusion of the medical supervisors that they were any better prepared than the current crop when they emerged from University.) Medicine isn't simple. The only way to better prepare the final year graduates would be to lock them in University longer. Far, far better that they get out and learn on the job under close supervision.

There are other interesting stories this morning - let's see if I can link other completely different stories in another semi-coherent blog post.

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