Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Bigger Better?

As the world experiences increasingly more and more huge natural disasters, the reporting too has become larger than life.
Perhaps media feel their reports might be lost among the plethora of others, so they need to hype them somewhat. A good (bad) example was the way global media illustrated Southland girl Lydia Ward's fending off of a shark in Feb.2010 (a 1.5m broad-nosed sevengill shark ended up with accompanying images of makos and jaws-gaping-wide Great Whites!).
The wires are abuzz today with the story of an Oz man in mortal combat with a crocodile! reports: "Todd was being dragged to his death, for two long minutes his new mate Kev battling a tug of war against the croc with Todd in between."
The Herald Sun's headline reads: "Weipa fisherman Todd Bairstow battles 4m crocodile for 15 mins"
But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story, as UK's Telegraph headline screams: "Australian fisherman survives 40-min crocodile attack".
See the problem? "two long minutes" (feeling like eternity with your arm in a croc's throat) grew to "15 minutes" and finally it nearly was an eternity: "40 minutes"!
So what really did happen, and for how long? Do readers really care? Is it just the headline they're interested in, that they can chat about over lunch? When did standards of journalistic accuracy begin to slide so badly?

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