Saturday, January 19, 2008

Slow News Day

(Pictured: Heathrow crash - not quite as bad as we'd have you believe)
I have to admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed by the coverage of the BA 777 crash at Heathrow on Thursday. Fair enough, it could have been disastrous and people could have been killed, only saved by the actions of the skilled air crew (just doing their jobs, surely?), but I can't help thinking that the news media have blown the whole thing a little out of proportion. In an instant after they heard the news on the BBC News they were on the phone to Political Editor Nick Robinson, who happened to be grounded at Heathrow on the Prime Minister's flight to China. For his part, Robinson seemed to be quite annoyed with the whole affair. I suspect they might even have woken him up, or interrupted his reading of a particularly interesting article in the in-flight rag. They asked him what he could tell them about the incident, which happened to be very little, apart from that he told them he could see some fire engines. Soon enough they seem to have got a chopper in the air and took some pictures of the crash, clearly somewhat disappointed at the lack of flames and wounded at what was clearly the aeronautical equivalent of scraping a bollard in the car park at Asda. Long and short of it, I can think of worse plane crashes to be in. Soon the news that everybody had been evacuated safely reached the Beeb and they left it alone after that.

The next day the papers did their level best to make it sound a lot more dramatic than it really was. Metro, the only paper I have time to accommodate into my busy Friday schedule ran with the slightly ill-conceived headline "WE THOUGHT IT WAS JUST A BUMPY LANDING: Air crash passengers oblivious to their brush with death". That does tend to play down the seriousness of the situation. If it had been me I would have focussed on the pilots rather than the passengers, unless they were spacking out in the cabin and foaming at the mouth in pant-shitting terror. The best part about the article was the fact that it described the passengers as "survivors". Of course they were survivors! Nobody died! I mean, technically you could say the were survivors of a plane crash but that does sort of imply that some people didn't survive.

Well, at least it beats reading another article about the Diana inquest.

Journalism: it's a funny old game.


Calum said...

The piece on Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe about Madeline McCann highlighted the 24-hour news phenomenon's obsession with nothing really quite well; I had a YouTube link to it on my my tumblog but it's been taken down.

It's fascinating the amount of time these people seem to end up reporting about news they themselves create; angry crowds made up mostly of reporters, or follow-up articles on quotes that were blown out of all context or proportion.

Blackwood said...

Heh, yeah I remember the one. The one where he was watching a door for five hours and changing channels so he could watch the same van drive past the newscaster's heads. Classic.

Sara said...

"We thought it was just a bumpy landing"; ha, well yeah thats exactly what it was. It landed didn't it? It didn't blow apart in midair or anything.

(I've been watching too much 24 - if it had actually crashed down on the motorway then I'd be interested).

Calum said...

If we don't find the body of that consulate we'll never know the combination to the safe containing the sarin, and terrorists will wipe out half of Los Angeles! WITHIN THE HOUR