Thursday, October 16, 2008

Declining Standards in Reporting

In the Scotsman this morning they run this headline.

Safety measures leave road travel as dangerous today as in medieval times

The article goes on to say. Road travel remains as hazardous now as it was 500 years ago, according to new research. Despite centuries of safety advances – including better road surfaces, safety barriers and airbags – travelling is still one of the riskiest areas of human activity, the study found.

It’s utter rubbish! Why do our newspapers and the rest of the media seem totally relaxed about reporting such tosh? The fact is that in 1930 there were only 2.3 million motor vehicles in Great Britain, but more than 7,000 people were killed in road accidents. By 1971 road accidents had killed 8,302. Come 2005 and the numbers killed on Britain’s roads had dropped to 3,201. This highlights how in every way, almost every day the news get away with this kind of stuff. Everything is worse, more, increasing, dangerous, catastrophic etc etc. It’s all about the news’ desire to compete with one another as the harbingers of doom and gloom.

The story wass 'driven', as many are by research. Elizabeth Towner, from the University of the West of England, who led the study, said, Across five centuries, "one continuity is the hazardous nature of travel".

It's probably our money that paid for the research. This story will probably get picked up by other sections of the media in the next couple of days and we'll be urged to 'stay in doors and seek cover" if we want to avoid being killed on Britain's roads.

1 comment:

Ken Dyer said...

As you say, this is all about competing to get the most dramatic news. A headline “Road travel is safer now than in 1500” won’t surprise many and won’t sell newspapers! Unfortunately we just have too many sources of news, and they have to fill their pages or airtime with something, and it seems these days that means distorting the truth, or simply telling lies, to grab the readers/viewers attention. Perhaps the News of the World will soon set the standards of news reporting that other papers will aspire to!

It also raises the question as to why someone would be funded for such research in the first place. The fact that someone, somewhere, actually took it seriously astounds me!

Some time back I recall that someone did lengthy research into education in the UK and came up with the mind shattering result that academic achievement of children in poorer families was overall lower than in more wealthy families….as if we were supposed to be shocked by this!

So with my background I’m going to seek funding for research into the safety of air travel during the last 100 years. I will give you a brief glimpse of the “results”…more people died in 2007 in flying machine incidents than in 1907. I will therefore conclude it is more dangerous to take to the air now than in 1907. So stay at home, don’t venture onto the roads, don’t go flying. If you do go out for a walk then don’t walk near a road or an airport!