Monday, June 22, 2009

NBC 4 is driving me crazy

There's been a horrific Red Line collision on DC's Metro (my coverage here and here). Naturally, everyone is covering it. This is the "deadliest" accident in Metro's history, with four fatalities and more than 100 riders injured. (There have been accidents in the past, this is just the "first of this magnitude.")

Unfortunately this means sticking two, mildly irritating news anchors, and hoping they behave with some shred of journalistic integrity.

Totally not happening.

First, Pat Collins is sent to the scene. If I'm in the news, for any reason, the last person I want reporting is Pat Collins. His slow annunciation forces a weird, sad, sensationalist presentation.

An anchor is harping that this crash will make traffic bad. Because that people will sit in traffic is SO MUCH WORSE than FOUR DEAD PEOPLE, which includes a TRAIN OPERATOR.

The same anchor is harping that the accident must be because there was track work, relying on Tweets as a source of information. People riding a train do not know the reason there is slow activity. This is rush hour, so delays would be natural.

She speculates and asks every person she can to confirm track work. Surely, this is track work!

But NBC 4 and riders are forgetting that Metro does its track work and maintenance on the weekend. That way riders will have less delays to deal with and no one will be late for work. Metro has said that while it may be possible, it is ridiculous to assume that track maintenance would be the cause of the accident. Metro says that a train was stopped, waiting to pass a platform, when the other train hit it from behind.

Pat Collins and the in-station anchors are using slang words as adjectives, including "slammed," (something you might slap on a desk) "plowed" (pedestrian at best) and "rammed." While they are probably accurate, it's speculative as no witnesses have been sourced or interviewed. This is a sensational report for NBC 4, not a fatal accident. Dicks.

Correction! At 7:46 p.m. Collins interviews someone who explains the sound of the noise. Still no eyewitness account, so my immature name-calling still stands.

Until we know from a reliable source what happened and have a more official account it would be best NOT to speculate.

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