Wednesday 8 December 2010

How the media reports road deaths

Most of the time the national media doesn't report road deaths at all. To grasp the full scale of the daily carnage on Britain's roads you have to turn to the local press. But the problem is not just the failure to report violence and death, thereby making it seem unimportant or 'natural'. It's also the way in which when it is reported its origins are sanitized.

The only national newspaper which bothered to report the killing of two brothers out cycling on Sunday afternoon seems to have been the Daily Mirror, which ran this headline:

Bike brothers killed by big freeze

The report begins:

THE big freeze claimed the lives of two brothers hit by a coach as they cycled home in icy conditions.

The big freeze was responsible? Strange, then, that The coach driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

Two young women also died on this same ‘A’ road just two days earlier:

Grace Sarah Simpson, of Prescott Road, Carlisle and Jessica Lakin, of Crosshill Drive, Morton, both 19, were travelling to work just after 9am when their car was in collision with a lorry at Newby Cross, just outside Carlisle.

The grieving mother of one of the girls told the local paper

“She loved her job as a beauty therapist, so much so that nothing stopped her going to work, even snow and ice, which sadly cost her her life.”

The local paper which reports these violent deaths matches them with a sensational journalistic scoop of equal importance. Yes, it’s war on the motorist again:

More parking tickets are issued in leafy Castle Street, by the Cathedral, than anywhere else in Carlisle.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that 850 tickets, or penalty charge notices (PCNs) as they are called officially, were slapped on windscreens in Castle Street in a 12-month period.

Yes, tickets are violently ‘slapped’ on innocent cars parked there by ruthlessly picked-on drivers.

Some of these drivers will drive away only at a later date to suffer an even worse fate when they are innocently driving round a blind corner at 60 mph on the wrong side of the road when a cyclist suddenly collides with them. But as we know, cyclists just come out of nowhere. They are very difficult to see even on bright sunny days. And if these cyclists aren’t wearing a helmet or are wearing dark clothing, their murderous irresponsibility is obvious to everyone, especially coroners, magistrates and judges, who are so much cleverer than the rest of us.