When did journalism turn from telling a good factual story to trying to place blame for an accident?

Article about a student falling from a ropes course is nothing but innuendo littered with a few facts.

A student fell 30’ on a school ropes course. The harness came undone or failed. The article does not identify the reason why the harness failed. The student broke his back, left wrist and arm and bruised a kidney when he landed. He will be wearing a brace for three months after the accident.

Now you’ve read the facts of the case.

The article then probes the following issues:

Whether the student signed a permission slip
Whether the mother signed a permission slip
How much training the student had
How much training the teachers had
Where the teachers received their training
Whether protocols were followed that day
Why there was no net or padding under the ropes course
Who built the ropes course, which then created a serious of “it’s not our fault quotes.”
The fact the ropes course is now closed

Eventually the issue gets back to the fact the mother wants the school to pay the students medical bills.
I wonder if the mother came up with this idea or the journalist righting the article.

Actually, it reminded me more of a plaintiff’s complaint than journalist.

When in doubt, keep your mouth shut!

This is a great example of trying to save your neck by sinking your ship. Every single thing that was reported was done in a way that made every one look bad.

Why give a reporter the opportunity?

First everyone interviewed felt they were smart enough to deal with a journalist. You aren’t. A journalist has been trained to make you look bad. None of the people interviewed were trained to make themselves or the school look good. One person, the ropes course builder had obviously been trained in making others look bad to make yourself look good.

Do what you do best and leave law and PR to experts.

Second, why answer questions you don’t know the answers too? It only makes you look, stupid at best and covering stuff probably. Just say I don’t know. If you sit in a desk in an office looking at a staff of dozens, what do you know about the operation of the ropes course? Either you trust your staff and have them run the course or you don’t. Don’t try and guess what they did and why. It only makes you look bad and makes the school look worse.

This does not mean you should hide under the desk. Hire someone to deal with the situation.
Remember that I don’t know is an honest answer. You can say I am the grand pooba of the organization and I have a staff of XX, X of whom run the ropes course. We are investigating the accident and when we learn more we’ll let you know. Right now, we’ve been dealing with the injured child and I have not had time to review what happened.

See Zipline victim: ‘Training fell short’

What do you think? Leave a comment. 

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