The other day, I wrote a response to this article about how such irresponsible reporting puts ADHD and otherwise neurodivergent people at risk. Since then there has been growing concern about the ethics behind the article and associated BBC Panorama documentary.
The first thing to note is this article written by the NHS consultant front Leeds who disproved the diagnosis of the three private diagnosticians in question. In the article, the doctor details how the situation being reported on is created by a history of underdiagnosis coupled with a lack of ring-fence NHS funding for ADHD services.
They comment on the fact that the Panorama documentary risks bolestering the arguments of people who falsely believe ADHD is overdiagnosed or that it isn’t a real diagnosis. I believe this is a very measured response to what is a massive failure by the BBC to ensure they meet good journalism standards.
However, there is more to this situation than improper reporting. A whistle-blower on Twitter believes that the reporter in question may have used a fake account to gain access to a female only space regarding ADHD in order to create the documentary and associated article.
The tweet is by Emily Mckenize on Twitter and details some concerning behaviour from the reporter behind this scandal:
In particular I would like to highlight the end of the thread:
This highlights a significant breach of boundaries and trust. This reporter appears to have posed as a woman to gain access to a female only space and then solicited information under false pretences. Is that not a flagrant disregard for journalistic ethics and integrity?
One thing is clear from this situation. The journalist, and perhaps the BBC themselves, had decided on the narrative they wanted to portray before actually investigating. They were willing to behave unethically and mislead vulnerable people in order to abuse a position of trust, just to sell this story.
They didn’t care what harm they were doing. They didn’t care that they were focusing on the wrong aspects of ADHD diagnoses. To make it worse, they have taken a space that felt safe for many vulnerable people and made them feel unsafe. This is not okay.
The BBC and the team at Panorama need to be held to account. The impact that this has had on a vulnerable community is unacceptable and highlights the ongoing ableism and uncontrolled privilege existing within the media. I would ask that everyone make a formal complaint to the BBC and request that they make reparations for the damage they have done.
Neurodivergent people deserve safety and support, not subterfuge and invalidation of their identity.
The BBC needs to do better.