Sunday 9 May 2010

Blaming the victim: the language of journalism

FORMER Welwyn Wheeler Emma Trott was hospitalised along with four other female cyclists that were in collision with a car in Belgium yesterday

Five cyclists all rode collectively into a car? I think not. I think we can be reasonably confident that it was the driver of a car who collided with a group of cyclists, as happens with great regularity on roads around the world. But the journalist insinuates the exact opposite by applying the verb ‘to collide’ to the behaviour of the cyclists not the driver.

No surprise at all that BBC News adopts an identical posture:

Five British female cyclists have been injured in a collision with a car while training in Belgium.

The Guardian’s report inverts the blame, almost certainly with complete accuracy:

Five female members of the British cycling team were seriously injured in Belgium this morning after a car ploughed into them during a training ride.