Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Accurate headlines: "Crocodile nightmare"
Here's one (courtesy ninemsn) that struck me today, and it's a familiar theme. The headline is "Crocodile nightmare for four fishing mates". So wow, that sounds pretty dramatic! Were these four guys attacked by a crocodile? Perhaps they were threatened by one, or were in serious danger of being attacked?
Actually, no. What a relief, in fact. What actually happened was four guys went fishing, got themselves into difficulties for one reason or another, and consequently spent 14 hours stranded amongst flooded mangroves. They set off an EPIRB beacon and authorities spent a considerable period of time trying to locate them. Why so long? Well, unfortunately the guys hadn't registered the EPIRB (a standard safety requirement) which made finding out who owned the EPIRB and where they might be considerably harder. Fortunately authorities eventually got a decent signal and were able to locate them. No crocodiles were involved in any way, shape or form, other than the fact they were in mangrove habitat where crocodiles are known to live. That's it. Perhaps one of the guys had a nightmare about a crocodile while sleeping in the boat?
So a more accurate headline might read: "Four fishermen put their lives at risk and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars because they went fishing in bad weather unprepared and with an unregistered EPIRB".
Of course, we're all glad that they were rescued and that no crocodiles were involved, but the risk factor here was not the crocodiles but the lack of regard for their own safety. We can only wonder how worried their families were. If there's an upside to the dramatic angle taken by the headline, it's hopefully more people reading about the need to go out fishing with a bit more preparation and safety.