LET’S take a little step back into history shall we and ponder the words of one of journalism’s most famous voices?

The man I refer to is the late Edward Roscoe Murrow who was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent and is considered one of journalism’s greatest figures, noted for his honesty and integrity in delivering the news.

Stick with me here, I have a reason for referring to Mr Murrow.

He was aware of the privileged position he held and took his job seriously. No of his more notable quotes is: “Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”

He wrote those words back in a time way before the internet and social media. But that quote is just as wise and probably even more pertinent today when everyone can publish their words ‘halfway around the world’.

I mention this after following the sad tale of a medical centre and one of its patients, a 25-year-old woman.

For those of you who missed it first time round, the story started early this month when the Guardian published a report saying Culcheth Medical Centre has been told to improve by the Care Quality Commission after an inspection found flaws in its systems for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

That prompted the woman, a patient at the practice, to share the Guardian’s story on a Culcheth community Facebook page.

The practice then responded by sending the patient a letter saying, among other things: “As the practice does not appear to be meeting your expectations, we politely suggest that you may wish to register with another practice due to the breakdown in the patient/doctor relationship.”

That was the cue for the now inevitable social media ‘outrage’ as well as Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group and Warrington Council chief executive Steven Broomhead also chipping in, demanding answers from the Culcheth practice.

And then last week came the inevitable volte-face. Replying to Mr Broomhead, practice partner GP James Macbeth said: “After reflection the practice should not have sent the letter.” He went on to say they have agreed an action plan which includes an apology to the patient, a review of the practice’s complaints process and a review of practice response letter.

So that’s all clear cut then, isn’t it? Truly a cautionary tale for the social media age.

But there’s a little more to this.

Read on in the initial response from the medical centre: “The GP partners feel very disappointed that you [the patient] did not speak to a member of our management team if you had any complaints about the practice and the services we provide and although on this occasion you made no defamatory comments, you have done so in the past.”

That provides a little context, so let’s go back to the original complaint from the patient. She is quoted in the Guardian as saying: “We’ve all put things on social media we probably shouldn’t but surely I have a right to share something about that whether that be good or bad.”

Here’s the thing, ask any professional journalist what the outcome would be of publishing ‘something they probably shouldn’t’ on line, in print or on social media.

There’s a good chance they would be opening a solicitor’s letter the following morning and maybe digging deep to pay damages in a libel case.

Not for the first time, I’ll take the opportunity to remind readers that posting on social media is considered as ‘publishing’. Words have consequences and you are responsible for what you write and post.

As Mr Murrow said: “Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”