How to Cover a Car Crash
I’ve got a piece in the current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review discussing the way car crashes are discussed in the media, prompted in part by some recent academic studies on the issue. It’s behind a paywall (it’s a great issue, I’d recommend a purchase), but the magazine has graciously offered to let me post the PDF here for those interested.
Here’s the lead:
The fatal car crash is, unfortunately, an all-too-familiar staple of local journalism. Each of us can summon a grim collage of tragedy: the flashing lights; the fluttering yellow tape on the roadside; the “starburst” windshield; the phrase “he was too young” or “our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
There is no denying this can make for arresting or poignant viewing or reading. And, unlike sensational reports of deaths that far outweigh their actual occurrence (e.g, in the months leading up to the attacks of 9/11, there was a rash of shark-attack stories, though we were soon to learn that our greatest threat did not come from the sea), the frequency of the coverage seems justified: traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for people ages one through thirty-four.
But to people who try to reduce the number of crashes, there is often something missing from the picture: Context.”
And the PDF is here.
This entry was posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 10:41 am and is filed under Traffic safety, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.