Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Headlines Erase Drivers in Today's Paper

With one notable exception, the headlines and ledes in today's paper all perpetuate in varying ways and degrees the error of erasing the driver in car crashes - the person who is responsible for the safe operation of a car.

"Van jumps curb"

"Vehicles crash into buildings"

"Abandoned car involved in shooting"
The one exception? The front-page story about an errant cop. Its grammatical and responsible subject is always the driver, a person charged with the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

"Officer resigns after crashing into car"
This is exactly right!

The topic is beginning to move from advocacy circles to journalism circles. From the Columbia Journalism Review:

Columbia Journalism Review
Reporters also tend to write about the car, and not the person behind it.... “In a way, journalists gave a kind of quasi-autonomy to cars long before autonomous vehicles existed,” Dudley says. The vehicle is responsible, not the motorist, in most news reports. “[It’s] framing traffic deaths as things that kind of happen, and not being skeptical about why it happened and who is responsible,” Dudley says.

1 comment:

Doug's Transportation Ramblings said...

The Statesman-Urinal is filled with these kinds of stories. Typically, a motor vehicle lost control, not the driver failed to maintain control. However, perhaps the classic was in a recent pedestrian death where a driver narrowly missed the pedestrian, but the pickup in the adjacent lane was "not so fortunate." I occasionally call them on these stupid characterizations of the causes of crashes but have rarely received a response and have seen no change in the writing.