Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a pedestrian while driving late Wednesday night.The headline, with active verbs, even says "pedestrian walking along highway." It could have been "person walking along highway," but it's still an improvement.
In the body of the piece, it says "Boehem, the driver of that vehicle, struck Jimenez as he stood near the side of the road."
Here we have most of the pieces:
- Active voice. Verbs are active, and a person is the subject of those active verbs.
- No robot car. The people, not some mysterious force in the car, have agency and are responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle.
Contrast this story with a recent one here. (Why is a national sports desk doing a better job with crash reporting?!)
|Last Friday, on the front page with passive voice|
|A day later, still the passive voice|
But it is a very great problem, a life-altering problem, that Stephen Murphy was harmed! Even if the driver had stopped, offered assistance, and cooperated with police, Murphy still has to endure the injury, recovery, and financial consequences.
Though it is the main crime, the main problem isn't that the driver ran off; the main problem, though it is not a crime, is that a man struck and hurt Stephen Murphy and Amelia.
If you think intent is important, Boeheim did not intent to kill a man, but the scoundrel in Salem intended to flee. So the crime here is even more accurately described with a human subject and active verbs: Donald Crume struck and hurt Stephen Murphy and his guide dog, Amelia, while Murphy attempted to cross Hrubitz Road.
|Columbia Journalism Review|