Friday, 19 December 2008

Not just bad editorialising, but bad editing as well: road safety reporting

This is a tale about journalists who are Clueless in coup coup land, and the editorial slants that this reveals.

The problem is this article:
Fatal bikecrash tips Queensland road toll to 316 (Courier Mail). First problem: "bikecrash" is one word? Since when? "England test upset" might be (Drop The Dead Donkey, can't find the quote listed anywhere), but I have never seen "bike" and "crash" shoved so carelessly together before.

So far, we've got a bald and perfectly objective statement. Most fatal road accidents get reported in some way, so so far, so good.

However. If you read the article (it's not long), you will notice that they refer to "a man riding a powerful sports 1000cc motorbike". WTF? This is not standard reporting. I can not remember any mention of the bike that has crashed unless it is a scooter (please let's not argue about this, it's got two wheels and an engine, it's a bike) or there was a club run involved, or the journalist recognised the name "Harley Davidson".

This worries me for the simple reason that the Courier Mail is even less not adverse to editorialising news content than most outlets aren't.

Just lately, they have stated (quotes not guaranteed to be accurate): "Government backflip puts Queensland water supply at risk" on water recycling, which I heartily suspect was a backflip on the Mail's part, and have started giving heavy publicity to the whole issue of young carers (good on them, at least) in the news pages, because they support an annual fundraising event.

So this focus on "powerful sports 1000cc motorbike" (as though Robyn Ironside even knows the significance of any of those words) is a worry. Is the Mail about to start being nasty to superbikes? (Once they work out what the categories are?)
Are they going to start calling for power restrictions, without having the decency of targeting those fucking annoying import Japanese coupes and SS Commodores, as well?

What about "Heavy cruiser-style bike"? Or "low-powered scooter ridden by someone without a bike licence"? How about a little even-handedness: "Car collided with garishly coloured, loud bike with a rider in bright yellow leathers."

I await developments with depression.

I will also, I swear, keep an eye out for all bike accident reports in 2009, and will collate how many appear to be written with an understanding of the issues, with objectivity, or with evidence of targeting bikers. And, if I can, I'll analyse each one in these pages.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

It seems it COULD be worse, after all

Following a history of airline hijacking and bombings very nearly as old as airline transportation itself, Al Qaeda has managed to frighten airlines and various federal authorities into instigating a string of measures so draconian that it's hard to keep track of the human rights and logic violations at work.

But, it seems that it could, after all, be worse.

According to the highly entertaining History Without the Boring Bits, in 1972, Jack Jensen, of Fort Worth, Texas (surprise, surprise) suggested installing a hypodermic syringe underneath each seat, allowing hijackers to be injected with a disabling or fatal dose of... something, at the pilot's discretion. Airlines allegedly decided that passengers wouldn't be able to relax, and decided not to adopt this system.

We also have the problem that, quite apart from putting that authority in the hands of the pilot... Don't most terrorists stand up when they start with the whole announcing-themselves-and-making-demands schtick? Particularly if they know about counter-measures like that?

Random design comments

It's sad what you notice, sometimes.

Take The Dark Knight. Apart from being a disappointingly sketchy and shallow display of Christian Bale's talents, and a heavy - if fairly deserved - cutting to emphasise the recently departed Heath Ledger, although a more sophisticated human story than I was expecting, it also lead me to notice a poor bit of design on the world's most beautiful motorcycle.

The MV Agusta F4 has held that title, with little hope of anything supplanting it - yes, even the new Ducati 1098 - since it was penned by the fresh-from-the-916 master himself, Masimo Tamburini, as a 750cc superbike in 1998. Most of what's happened since has been evolution of components, and a string of limited-edition variants which sell for heart-stopping amounts of money. But it is
still arguably the finest looking motorbike on the planet - all the proportions are right, it's elegant with understated flanks and a touch of aggression about the fuel tank and the posture, and it has such a beautifully simple headlight that it still looks better than every incarnation of a Japanese superbike for the last ten years - even the best R1 couldn't quite match it.


While Bruce Wayne is riding through Gotham on his F4 (
Bastard!) I couldn't help but notice the tail.

The F4 has four stubby exhausts underneath the taillight, which look fairly cool, and the taillight itself is neat and sharp-looking. Unfortunately, there is a complete visual break between the two, and the whole back end of the bike just looks jarringly out of sync with itself, which is both odd and unexpected
from the man who gave us that sublime front.

Oh, well. Maybe he's not an arse man.

Search This Blog