Aspects of Meaning and Relevance in News Media Coverage of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Day after day, rush hour after rush hour, stories of injury and death on the roadway pour forth from the local news. Reports of terror threats and other crimes generate visceral responses and increase public demand for immediate solutions. Yet, tens of thousands of vehicular tragedies go unreported, and those that are produce little impetus for change. Why isn't the public more appalled? Why don't daily news reports fuel a national resolve to "bear any burden, pay any price" until we can all but eradicate one of the most insidious threats to personal security in our own communities? To answer these questions, it would be wise to begin with an examination of how and why traffic safety information is collected and conveyed by professional news gatherers. Two elements drive news coverage of any topic: the message and the messenger. In the case of traffic accidents, the relative dangers of auto mobility lurk just below the surface of both, but rarely coalesce and rise to improve the context and penetration of news reports. In a world overwhelmed by information, how can news media messages and their stewards break through that barrier and compel us to sit up and take notice? Much depends upon a story's meaning and relevance to our own lives. Improving these qualities of communication requires a thorough knowledge of a complex arena and some means with which to reach its gatekeepers and, ultimately, penetrate its veils of objectivity.

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 273-280
  • Monograph Title: Improving Traffic Safety Culture in the United States - The Journey Forward

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01051423
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 5 2007 2:23PM