Monday, August 30, 2010

Hijacking The Headlines

As it happened in 2008On-line over the past few days was a short story from Radio New Zealand, with the eyecatching headline: Hijacked pilot gives up flying - this after the hijacker was sentenced last Friday. Here's the story in its entirety:
"The Air Line Pilots Association says the captain of a passenger plane hijacked over the South Island has given up flying.
A woman who stabbed both pilots on an Air New Zealand flight from Blenheim to Christchurch on 8 February, 2008, was sentenced in the High Court in Christchurch on Friday to nine years in prison.
Asha Abdille, 33, a Somali-born refugee, faced 15 years in prison, but her sentence was reduced because she pleaded guilty and had mental health problems.
The Pilots Association says the community has been sent the message that the hijacking of an aircraft is a very serious offence.
While the captain of the aircraft involved no longer flies, the association says his co-pilot is still flying domestic services."
When I saw that headline I immediately thought: "stress" - poor guy must have been so traumatised by reliving the event through court, that he's hung up his cap this very week (after all, he did sustain extensive injuries).
But nowhere else on-line did any news service anywhere in the world (yes, it's gone global) imply the same thing, or even use a similar headline. In fact, virtually all the stories were "bleeding heart" articles about the hijacker's sad life: readers seem expected to feel sorry for her (instead of the shocked passengers and injured crew)!
The pilot Dion MacMillan has stopped flying, but this happened some time ago. This is not a new fact, and should not have been linked by headline insinuation with last week's sentencing. Don't imply his ceasing flying was because of the court decision! The journalist concerned should have shown more respect for the pilot, his bravery... and the journo's own integrity!
Is it just me, or do more people want a return to quality journalism, that sets out facts without resorting to sensationalism, manipulative headlines, innuendo and cheap tricks to draw in readers?

[For more on the incident than we ever heard in the news, see the 2008 magazine archive of the NZ Air Line Pilots Assn...]

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