Thursday, 16 December 2010

Motorcycle accidents in the media: Part 23

I love it when media organisations follow minor stories. It goes without saying that big events will be given their endless, excruciatingly detailed days in the sun, but it's nice when small stories get updates.

How many times have you thought "Hey, I wonder what happened to...?"

Well, then.

More entertaining, however, is when the same story gets progress notes from different media organisations.

December 1 was a little rich for stories of bike accidents and general shenanigans. I'm not sure why - it was a Wednesday, so there was no weekend backlog to clear.

First up, and first series, Oxley traffic branch cop killed, from the QT.

The headline doesn't reveal that he was a fair way from Oxley when he died, or that he wasn't in fact shot in a drive-way revenge attack by mafiosi. He was way up north between Gladstone and Rockhampton when he hit a truck.

Once again, we have "his service motorcycle collided" as though no human had anything to say in the matter.

There's sad quotes from the Commissioner, but little actual details on the accident. He was riding escort, and there was a collision with a truck. I would love to hear the outcome of that investigation.

Also: Would a commissioner ever come out and say that an officer was anything but a "valued member of the Service"?

I suspect there was a web glitch and the last paragraph was supposed to be split into two.

Same day, the ABC has considerably more in Motorcycle cop killed on duty.

There are more quotes here, and some information about the accident. Bizarrely, there appears to be a paragraph or two missing.

We are first told "his motorcycle collided with a truck" but no more.

Then, at the end of the article, there is mention of a review of training of officers escorting wide loads - probably fair enough - and then "it does not appear the truck's speed was a factor in today's crash." This may be just another knee-jerk because-it's-expected reference to speed, but: "The truck driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries."

Um, what? The only way a truck driver could get injured in a collision with a motorbike, while they're driving the truck, is if they have a heart attack out of shock, bump their head from surprise or the bike flips up and comes through the windscreen, and that would be newsworthy.

Perhaps the answer comes from the Courier Mail, who had their say on December 7 with (deep breath, now) Wildlife corridor to be named after fallen policeman Dan Stiller, killed by jack-knife truck on highway.

Oh, right, that's why they collided! (You did get to the end of that headline, didn't you?)

Apart from that critical piece of information, the article is basically a long eulogy, with lots of regrets being voiced and a wider-perspective version of the same official photo used by the ABC.

Notice, however, that this article shows the value of subheadings. The ABC is not afraid of breaking up an article at logical places, and it helps the reader. The Courier Mail hasn't, but there is an extra blank line inserted towards the end which looks like a missing headline. I even highlighted the text in case my web browser was doing something funny and it was there, just invisible to me. No, it's just a redundant blank line.

The second story arc, also beginning December 1, is just two stories long and both from the ABC, beginning with Dirt bike rider in serious condition after crash.

Apart from the usual language issues ("fell off") it's a good story, perhaps less crisp than most ABC pieces are and has a good set of quotes from the organiser.

The follow up, from December 6, is unfortunately Injured dirt bike rider dies in hospital.

This story is shorter and has no byline, and is blunt and to the point. The lead par is perhaps a little clunky, but there's not really anything missing and not really anything wrong.

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