Friday, July 08, 2005

Media Accuracy

I know I shouldn't get wound up by press inaccuracy... but I'm always jolted when I see something on the news that I know to be manifestly false.

You can forgive some mistakes (especially when made under the pressure of an event such as yesterday's).

An example was the repeated claim that the mobile phone networks were blocking access to all but emergency services... I even saw reputable news outlets claiming that the networks had been switched off in case the terrorists were using cell phones to trigger bombs. I mean... why don't we just turn off the lights and cover the town with a blanket in case they want to use the benefit of light to locate the detonators. I suppose we could also flood all the tube tunnels so no bomb can explode.... The fact that my phone - and those of everyone else I know - worked all day (I was in Central London) seems to have passed them by. Yes - sometimes we couldn't make calls. Perhaps that was because the networks were so busy with people calling each other to ask if they were ok. There really isn't a conspiracy here...

That was a minor annoyance compared to the woeful coverage of the Aldgate bomb. I can only assume that journalists travel everywhere by cab and never use the tube.

If I hear another reporter telling me the explosion occurred on a Circle line train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate East - or on a Hammersmith and City train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate, I'm going to scream.

It's really not that hard. Look at the map below:

Source: wikipedia

Do you see the circle line passing through Aldgate East? No. Me neither.

Guys: checking facts about casualties, times, causes,..., during an emergency of this scale is difficult and we expect confusion and corrections. But when you only have to look at one of the most well-known maps in the world to realise you're talking manifest rubbish, there really is no excuse for such sloppiness.

I understand from friends that what actually happened was that it was an H&C train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate East - but that victims were evacuated through Aldgate station (which is very close to Aldgate East and was the best route out.) So I can see where confusion would stem from... but when you get conflicting information and have an authoritative resource that can help you rule out the nonsense, it's really not hard to figure out what to do.

Laughably. the BBC even showed the Hammersmith and City Line travelling north from Baker Street all day (hint: it goes to Hammersmith. The clue is in the name, guys...).

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