Motorcyclists are being demonised by mainstream media and “extreme rider behaviour” sensationalised without balance or context, says a road safety campaigner.
Judith Kuerschner, who was riding behind her husband when he was killed by a driver turning in front of him without indicating and who was a Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party candidate at the last election, says the issue was highlighted at the recent Australasian Road Safety Conference in Canberra.
She says the issue of social responsibility of the mainstream media in sensationalising and demonising road users was ironically raised by a NSW cop.
“For example, as this guy said, when they run a road safety blitz the media are only interested in reporting how many tickets were handed out and what was the fastest speed recorded; they’re not interested in reporting that despite all this 97% of road users were doing the right thing,” she says.
It is, indeed, ironic given the police are often complicit in releasing sensationalist statistics and video evidence to the mainstream media, often to win their favour.
Judith also referred to an example of a recent article of a motorcyclist uploading a YouTube clip of him riding over 200km/h on a South Australia road.
“I happen to know the person who uploaded the video, which apparently was done by accident and was a video that was taken over half a decade ago,” she says.
“But that didn’t stop Channel 9 from having a slow news day and, they admitted, to ‘trawling youtube for sensationalist videos’.
“Now this was given its usual ‘outrage’ paint by the mainstream media with no consideration for the context, of either the video, or the fact that this was extreme behaviour by an individual, and was not what they were likely to see everyday by every other motorcyclist on the road.”
She says the news item was designed to set up an “us vs them” scenario. It also created outrage in the motorcycling community among “pious patsies” who say they have “never done anything like this on their own bikes in their lives”.
“Unfortunately this sensationalist, one-sided, unconscionable journalism hits its mark every time and pushes motorcyclists further into the collective psyche as being ‘bad people we must destroy’,” she says.
“AMEP experienced this same smear campaign leading up to the last election when a Sydney burnout comp was labelled a ‘hoon meet’ by Channel 9 (again) with footage taken, and doctored, from the official media recorder of the event.”
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