We question the way motorcycle accidents are reported as opposed to automobile accidents. Our contention, as has been the contention of others, is that news reporting when it comes to motorcycle crash reporting is biased, discriminatory and sensationalized.
We used in a recent example the reporting by WCTV on the death of Armondo Sequra. Which we will reprint here in order to illustrate, based on our last response from WCTV, what would appear to be an inability to connect the dot's.
In a "media double standard when it comes to motorcycles?" we did the following: We first printed WCTV's reporting word for word as follows:
Posted: 12:15 AM Jun 24, 2009
Last Updated: 12:18 AM Jun 24, 2009
Reporter: Liza Park
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
They're fast and have a edgy image... but motorcycles are very dangerous.
And motorcycle racing can be deadly.
Sunday afternoon, 25-year-old Armando Segura was killed while riding his motorcycle in a rural area of Leon County.
Florida Highway Patrol says they're seeing an up tick in motorcycle racing on rural roads.
FHP suspects Segura was racing with another biker when he crashed on Roberts Road.
"The higher end motorcycles - some of them can approach factory speeds of almost 200 miles an hour," says LT Ken Ellis of the Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP reminds us that new Florida laws make racing a first degree misdemeanor.We then used the exact same wording, changing the circumstances slightly, to demonstrate how the bias presents itself based on the reporting we do not see, as follows:
Just watching a road race as a spectator can land you behind bars as well.
And if you try to flee from a road race, you'll be facing a felony.
There convenient and facilitate communication....but cell phones are very dangerous.
And driving while using a cell phone can be deadly.
The other day Jane Doe, wife and mother, was killed while riding her motorcycle in a rural area.of Leon County.
Florida Highway Patrol says they are seeing an up tick in cell phone use on county roads.
FHP suspects Ms. Doe was going north when a van swerved into her lane hitting her head on.
"The higher end cell phones-some of them allow you to watch videos, play games and use while driving is equal to DUI impairment" says LT. Officer of the Florida Highway patrol.
FHP reminds us it is not against the law to use a cell phone.
Just killing somebody while driving while distracted will not land you in jail.
And you won't have to flee because you will have broken no law.
After sending this to WCTV our last response from them is as follows:
Thanks for your email.
Which issue are we not addressing?
This after wording to the the reporter containing the following:
We in the motorcycle world are used to the reports with pictures and videos of horrific crashes and deaths resulting from motorcycle crashes. We have found that despite our continued protestations the media generally reports on whether or not the rider was wearing a helmet irregardless of cause of death and the helmets role.
We are used to the state telling us that we need to be responsible for the careless driving of others by encouraging us to wear bright reflective fluorescent clown suits to help those who are paying attention see us.
What we are not used to is the media expending the same amount of energies and resources as to the cause of most crashes, i.e. driver distraction, cell phone use (hands free or not), negligence, changing crash dynamics as a result of the increase in SUV's and light trucks on the road and just plain don't give a damn as we watch them run red lights with impunity in downtown Tallahassee. Reporting that, if done well, could lead to the actual saving of lives.
Many of us have begged, cajoled and pleaded with media to "get the real story" with
little more than lip service, if that, in return.
AN example of a very good story would be why does the legislature go all out to address motorcyclists and avoid like the plague driver distraction. Would it have anything to do as one senators aide told me, "wireless industry money is floating all over this capital?"
Another example might be the state required motorcycle training can not be proven to be effective by any independent nationally recognized research study. Which the state readily admits to.
It maybe that Mr. Segura was negligent and reckless and as result of such actions paid the consequences.
On the other hand, all to often it is the motorcyclist who is obeying the law that suffers the consequences of the negligent and reckless action of other vehicles actions.
When is that reported on.
It would seem to this writer that in the interest of journalistic objectivity and integrity that all sides of the issue be addressed. Especially when the results could be an actual impact on the carnage that infests the killing fields Florida refers to as it's highways.
Can you demonstrate how that has, or is being done?
If we can be of help in such an endeavor please do not hesitate to let us know.
As in our way of thinking any piece of journalism that would result in the reduction of loss of life would indeed be news.
The response from the WTCV news Manager, Mike Smith , asking what "issue was not being addressed" left me and some others somewhat incredulous if not surprised.
A member of our community "Biker Biker Bill" was recently killed when a "distracted" van driver crossed the center line and killed him.
Yet despite the fact that distracted driving is responsible for a much larger percentage of deaths in the state of Florida and around the country than "racing", where were the videos of State Troopers warning against the dangers of "distracted driving"? Where were the videos showing crime scene tape cordoning off a "death scene attributable to distracted driving". Racing deaths are not a common occurrence in this area. Distracted driving deaths are? Yet they do not get the same press. THATthat Mr. Smith is the issue!
Motorcycle accidents reported in the media more often than not differentiate between the crash dynamics. Media reports on whether or not the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet, whether or not use, or lack of use of such, was a contributing factor in the death. All to often we hear, the driver did not see the motorcyclists (usually as a result of negligence and/or distraction) yet the state insist it is the motorcyclist responsibility to be "conspicuous" through the use of bright colors and daylight driving lights. Something not required of other vehicles that can be just as difficult to see depending on color, time of day and weather.
The fact that a News Manager or News reporter or News station can not differentiate how there reporting in one set of circumstance will do little to save lives and there failure to report on another set of circumstances, relating to the commonalities of motorcycles and death, will insure that more lives will be lost, is disturbing. And possibility further evidence that mainstream media is more interested in regurgitating what is fed to them as opposed to allocating resources to address the overall problem, l.e. highway fatalities.
That Mr. Smith is the issue. While the public may be accepting of the death of a motorcyclist whose actions resulted in his own death, we wonder if they would be just as accepting of their own (the public) role in insuring the Killing Fields referred to as Florida's roadways will grow. And if your failure to use the same reporting standards in each instance is related to a fear of running off viewers who do not wish to face the truth.
Based on your inability to identify the issue I would be inclined to believe that the latter is the case and that you yourself maybe in denial.
Motorcycle Awareness is not a catch phrase. It is an attitude that must be fostered and nurtured until such time as it becomes a part of the public consciousness.
As we have stated before we would be more than happy to offer our assistance in this matter. However if that is not an iption might suggest that you obtain some assistance in understanding the "ISSUES" because you are sorely in need of it.
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