'Bionic Eye Gives Blind Man Sight,' trumpets the headline. It's a wonderful story, how Moorfields Eye Hospital have partially restored the vision of a completely blind man using implant technology. "My one ambition at the moment is to be able to go out on a nice, clear evening and be able to pick up the moon," says 'Ron', who hasn't registered the merest photon for over 30 years but can now sort socks into different shades.
All positive, optimistic news to warm the latent cockles of your heart. But there's something very familiar about this story. The first such interventions happened nearly a year ago at Moorfields, and according to the BBC '18 patients across the world' have received the device.
So why are the BBC peddling this as news once again? Reading down to the bottom offers a clue: "Ron's progress will be featured on a BBC Inside Out documentary in the London area at 1930 GMT on 4 March". In other words, the whole piece is an advert for a BBC programme masquerading as a news story. We don't want to detract from such a stonking example of the wonders of medical science, nor the touching human stories behind this advance. But the BBC do this ALL THE TIME, across their TV, radio and internet news. The worst offender is BBC Breakfast, where it seems half the stories feed in to 'tonight's panorama' or 'tomorrow's Watchdog'. That's OK, as Breakfast is a magazine-style show rather than hard news. And, in any case, we're never up early enough to let it bother us. But this sham newsmongering is increasingly creeping onto the more serious news sites and programmes. Enough. Has anyone invented a cure for having the wool pulled over one's eyes?
Image courtesy of Chutney Bannister from the Londonist Flickr pool.