Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cars Gone Bad

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about the dangers of inanimate objects (see my previous post here). Sadly, it probably won’t be the last…

From a story about an overnight shooting posted on – you guessed it! – a local news station’s web site:

“…police learned that two vehicles began shooting at each other… The only description police have regarding the suspects involved is that both vehicles were white in color.”

Once again, it was the manmade machines that were responsible for the shooting, and the humans operating those machines apparently had nothing to do with it. Maybe gun laws need to be expanded to require background checks on motor vehicles…

Look, there is absolutely nothing legally or morally wrong about reporting that people in two vehicles shot at each other, or that a man used a hammer to hit another man. So why are so many reporters writing stories that eliminate the human element?

The easy answer is that journalism programs have gone down the toilet. Many colleges and universities have eliminated their journalism departments, leaving aspiring reporters to get their formal education any way they can. (Which is often at the expense of their audience.)

But there’s another possibility to consider. In today’s lawsuit-happy society, reporters are being heavily schooled on the perils of slander and libel so that they, and the organizations they work for, stay out of trouble. That’s not a bad plan.

However, now it appears that reporters are reluctant to implicate people at all in incidents of criminal wrongdoing. Perhaps this stems from a misguided fear that they’ll incite some sort of public outcry about discrimination against humans.

Whatever the reason, there is a notable increase in the number of news stories that attribute criminal wrongdoing to objects instead of the humans wielding those objects. And it's not the computer's fault.

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