Was coverage of Juan balanced?

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Re: Manx Independent, of December 23.

I wonder if the edition was altogether balanced.

The whole of the front page was used to castigate someone who had vomited on public transport – which you also highlighted in a centre pages editorial.

On the inside page you devoted all of two inches to record five arrests for drunken driving.

Whilst the front page incident does seem to have been self inflicted, unless the subject was also driving the bus, it was neither dangerous nor potentially so. On the other hand every one of the instances of drunken driving reported had the potential to be dangerous, perhaps some were.

So, it is less bad to avoid public embarrassment by the simple expedient of drink driving?

Perhaps you were laying it on thick because of the ‘appalling’ example the incident would give to the ‘youth of today’? I am sure we would all be very surprised to find any teenagers looking to the island’s body politic for guidance on personal behaviour (bearing in mind some criminal examples they could follow I might be more worried if they did and more so if they learned also from Westminster). Besides, were some notice to be taken then holding up bad examples on the front page would appear to be self defeating.

(Those of us who are older find that a more flexible method of public transport is needed after a night out drinking, whether of Castletown Bitter or, so I am told, tea! In the same way as the daily walk must nowadays ‘vector in’ the location of free ‘conveniences’ – in town anyway.)

David Varley,


Editor’s comment: We also doubt that young people regard our politicians as role models in terms of drinking behaviour.

We believed that Juan Watterson’s behaviour was so newsworthy for two principal reasons.

First of all, he is the Minister for Home Affairs. As such, he is the politician responsible for law and order in the island. It’s his job to work with the police, give them resources, etc. He’s also the politician behind the island’s drug and alcohol strategy. He is the politician who could be asked about drunk and incapable/disorderly issues in general in Tynwald, for example. His reputation and credibility, after such behaviour, is at the very least damaged.

Second, on the morning of the bus incident, he had delivered a Christmas message against binge drinking. Just hours later he had drunk so much that he vomited on a bus so badly that it had to be taken out of service to be cleaned. Many of our readers would, we’re sure, see that as hypocrisy, even if he did say sorry later.

As for drink driving, that’s a bit of a red herring. Juan Watterson didn’t drink and drive on December 16. Neither did tens of thousands of other people in the Isle of Man. Our story was about what Mr Watterson did, not what he didn’t do.

We reported (as we always do) drink-driving arrests and charges. Once anyone has been charged and proceedings are active we are limited in what we can say for fear of being in contempt of court.

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