Sloppy Journalism, Death And Cowardice

A largely sunny day and the drear of the weekend’s quickly banished. The brightness overcomes the cold.

Cat sunning itself on a car

A sunny day has to be made the most of.

Today’s was a flat ride taking in Sonning, Wargrave, the Walthams, Hurst and Sandford. It was all pleasant enough though everywhere’s sodden and a few ditches are overflowing onto the lanes. I was thinking about what the area would be like to visit and concluded it would be fine to pass through but you probably couldn’t justify stopping. It’s a bit feature-less; you need to get north of the Thames before it starts to be more routinely picturesque.

I guess because of the wind direction, the planes for Heathrow were loud overhead today. I’m lucky to live to the west of the airport; the prevailing wind is from the south-west and so for the most part the planes are across to the east, wrecking the lives of Londoners.

The misery caused by that racket, day-in and day-out, is rarely mentioned when they talk about expanding Heathrow; it must be one heck of a blight on the lives of anyone living much closer to it than Reading; it can be bad here on the wrong day.

The BBC web site managed to report 34% of tourism chiefs (whoever they are) being in favour of expanding the airport as “Tourism chiefs back Heathrow expansion, poll claims”. If that’s the case then presumably if 66% of Americans vote for Obama in the US election that’s underway now, the BBC will report it as “Americans back Romney for President”.

What’s genuinely grim is that the utterly dismal quality of the journalism isn’t remarked on. People will go away with the headline in their minds and nothing else. It would be helpful, too, if that ‘build another runway’ opinion was put in context. Just the other day the BBC also reported that expanding Heathrow will lead to numerous extra deaths from pollution.

Yes, that’s a speculative conclusion but so’s the optimism of ‘tourism chiefs’ that a third runway will bring benefits.

What we need are journalists willing to ask ‘tourism chiefs’ to justify their stance in relation to those deaths. You could – perhaps – respect the voice of a ‘tourism chief’ if he or she were willing to say ‘yes, I know I’m backing the premature deaths of innocent people, but I think it’s worth it, and I’m willing to meet the families and loved ones of those who die and tell them so personally.” One rather suspects that cowardice will prevail – unchallenged. Such is how we chose to live.