Saturday, July 28, 2007

News helicopters

My condolences go out to the families and friends of those who died in the Phoenix news helicopter collision.

I have never understood why a live police chase is news. It's dramatic, sure, but news? How does it impact us? Why does it matter?

That's why I don't think I agree with the Phoenix chief of police in pressing charges against the fleeing criminal for the deaths of the helicopter newsmen going to cover him:

Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris suggested to reporters at the scene that the subject of the chase could be charged in connection with the helicopter crash.

"I believe you will want to talk to investigators but I think he will be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy," Harris said. He didn't elaborate.

If two police cars collided when pursuing him, I'd hold him liable; they're doing what they're required to do. But the news helicopters, as I see it, are making a choice, and an iffy one at that. They're not required to go after him, film him, or cover him, and so I can't see how he's responsible for their decision to do so.

I still remember the death of Karen Key in Denver when I was a kid. There was controversy at the time about whether it was safe to fly that day, or even if Key was qualified enough to get the job as helicopter reporter.

It's different now; the story Key wanted to cover, a missing commuter plane, positively dwarfs the newsworthiness of some dude we don't know running from the cops. And yet five--FIVE!--helicopters pursued this "story."

What the reporters' and photographers' families are going through is not worth this silly little chase they were putting their lives on the line to cover. There's no journalistic reason to chase this unknown fleeing man; only entertainment value.

We didn't learn from the death of Karen Key 25 years ago, but maybe, this time, we can re-evaluate our priorities a little.

1 comment:

Shannin said...

Don and I joked about seeing a high speed chase when we were in So Cal. Seeing this makes us rethink our position on this "entertainment."