May 31, 2008


Quote of the day:

There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good.

Samuel Johnson
English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 - 1784)




Because the little news they actually report, they end up sensationalizing it. It's not enough that there is a tragedy, but let's make sure that we can scare everyone else in America and make it worse. What the hell am I so incoherently talking about?

Well let's start at the beginning...

I don't watch the news anymore and haven't since 1988-1989. The local news channel had this commercial playing while I was getting ready for school.

The line went "RIGHT NOW THERE SOMETHING KILLING YOUR KIDS IN YOUR HOME." My sister was between 3-4 years old so this scared me, a lot! So that night I made sure to watch the news.

They talked about non-child proofed cabinets were leading to an increase of children's accidents and deaths.

At the time this pissed me off (and still does). They took something that every parent should do (but many don't), and turn it into a scare tactic to improve ratings.

I vowed that day to never sit down and watch the news. Something I have held true to this day (with the exception of September 11th, 2001 and for about a week or so after that truly tragic event).

So now let's fast forward to this past Saturday.

While Season and I were having a completely unhealthy breakfast at McDonald's I noticed a TV behind me. It was on CNN. Season says "Oh they're talking about the bus that crashed." I turn around and I see the tag line SAFE RIDES?

I started to lose it, but the simple fact that there were kids around I reigned it in, till today.

How much mileage can these so-called news stations drag out of misery, pain and death. I'm sorry but accidents happen. That is why they are called accidents.

Otherwise they would be called murder because they would be on purpose. My condolences to the families and loved ones of this shocking and heart breaking moment but a big FUCK YOU to so called news agencies who have turned it into a shock TV moment. FUCK YOU to the so called reporters who have turned this misfortune into a scare tactic to make Americans believe that they aren't safe anywhere.

The following bit of information, may open your eyes to what the media does to the truth.

According to data gathered for NHTSA's (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Fatal Analysis Reporting System, in school bus crashes over the last couple of decades, fewer that 10% of school bus occupants have had any injury and 90% were not injured at all. The occupant most frequently injured is the bus driver since that seating position does not have the same passive occupant protections that passenger seats have, such as flexible and padded seat backs.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 96 percent of the estimated 8,500 to 12,000 children injured in school bus accidents annually are considered minor (scrapes, bumps, bruises, etc.).

NHTSA calculated that 4 percent of the school bus-related injuries to children -- about 350 to 475 annually -- are serious (i.e. broken bones or worse) based on the medical community's widely accepted AIS or Abbreviated Injury Scale.

An average of six children are fatally injured inside school buses annually.

About 16 children are fatally injured as pedestrians in the loading & unloading zone around school buses annually. That's better than 200 percent improvement from 75 school bus fatalities in 1975; it is still not good enough.

I agree that these numbers are still not good enough. But it's an improvement and it's a very good start!

But compare those numbers to these.

On average, there are more than 6 million car accidents on the roads of the US, annually. More than 3 million people are injured in car accidents, with more than 2 million of these injuries being permanent.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there are about 43,000 people killed in fatal car accidents each year in the United States.

From this information I'd rather ride the bus then get into my car. But I'm not here to scare any of you. I'm just giving you the cold hard facts. There are accidents and whether it's a fender bender or a fatality they happen. Every accident that happens is an emotional and terrifying moment. All we can do, as a whole, is try to be safer. Pay attention to our actions, reactions and environments.

But mostly we as a whole need to be educated to the truth.

Not to the exploitative journalism that preys on our fears.

Not the tabloid journalism that twists the facts.

Especially not to the ratings whores who take these horrific moments, to intimidate and terrorize us all.

Let me leave you with this last article because I agree with everything he says.

Why America's media sucks
November 19, 2004By Ben Ho
Media herding is something that always piqued my interest. During the Clinton administration, church burning suddenly became a big issue. It seemed like the news was reporting a new incident every other week.
They held Congressional hearings. Important men fulminated about the rampant problem of racism.
Then you look at the data, and the number of church burnings had been decreasing monotonically for as long as data was available. In fact, it was at an all-time low that year. The only thing that changed was the media coverage.
A few years ago, the big media story was shark attacks; lots of scary articles warning about shark attacks. Yet again, looking at the data, the numbers were tiny - less than the chance of getting struck by lightening - and again, there were fewer attacks than in previous years.
A year ago, it was kidnappings of young white girls, though once again, the number of kidnappings has also been declining.
Court cases are particularly amusing. Why is Scott Peterson so prominent, when there are lots of murders each year that people ignore?
One possible explanation is that the media is only giving the public what it wants to hear.
When one media outlet figures out a story that resonates with the people, the others just jump on the bandwagon and copy it. Once the media makes a big fuss, people start to think the story is important, and it feeds on itself - a vicious cycle of triviality.
The question to ask is how problematic is it?
Having this deluge of stories around a few select anecdotes often gives very wrong impressions about the actual state of the world.
The problem is that statistics and data are boring. They lack salience. People are much more likely to remember the poor woman with ragged clothes and disheveled hair than arcane numbers about those in poverty.
I read Time magazine every week. I am bothered by the fact that most of their news articles are primarily based on random quotes from random people across the country.
Who are these people? In a story about unemployment, they interview three random people and somehow think they have provided a complete picture of the problem.
I remember a few years ago, there was the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C. where women showed up protesting the lack of child safety locks on guns. They probably had in mind the horrible stories they saw in papers about little kids who accidentally shoot themselves.
Economist Steven Levitt finds that, statistically, having a swimming pool in a house is 100 times more deadly to children than having a gun. Levitt's point is not that we should have more guns, but that we spend so much time worrying about guns that we forget about safeguarding our children from far more significant dangers.
Hepatitis and malaria - both preventable diseases - kill more people a year in Africa than AIDS, yet AIDS gets all the media attention and more funding. AIDS is just a sexier disease than malaria. Lack of awareness has serious consequences.
Despite my general pessimistic view on the selective focus on social issues by the American populace, this is one area where I do think education can work.
It needs to start here. Harvard - yes, the Stanford of the East - actually had the good idea in requiring a statistics class for all of its undergraduates. The university wants its students to find meaning in statistics and be aware of their potential misuse.
An old definition of a scientist is someone who can get excited by a page of numbers. But we need everyone to get excited.
An informal poll of federal judges found that the great majority could not define the following words: mean, mode and median.
At the very least, we need reporters to be educated. It may be that salient anecdotes are the only means to get their point across. So far, they haven't been driving the right point home.

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