Thursday, August 02, 2007

The The Minnesota bridge tragedy: Could it happen to ME?

Is there any media trend more annoying than the need of local shows to capitalize on a tragedy somewhere else by asking "Could it happen here?"

On the one hand, I suppose anything that prompts the media to pay attention to an important issue, such as infrastructure safety, is a good thing. We all know it's a rarity that the media sheds light on a potential problem before it happens, especially resource-poor local media.

But I really hate the presumption that I, as a news consumer, only care about something that effects ME. Sure, four people are dead and 70 injured and dozens of others missing in a terrible tragedy. Maybe, just maybe, I can be convinced to care about what happened to them: who they are, how it happened, why it happened.

And if you're truly a local news show and you can't or don't think you should cover what happened in Minneapolis, then just don't. I will forgive you for ignoring a big national news story if you don't have anything to say. Surely something of interest happened in Los Angeles today.

Otherwise, let's just go to the opposite extreme. We need a media-savvy company to build a Web 2.0 application personalizing every major tragedy. I'd like to see an interactive map showing every bridge I personally drive over and how likely I am to die while driving over them. Bombing in Baghdad? How safe are all the buildings that Ben Fritz visits from terrorist attacks? Election coming up? Don't bother me with talk about rebuilding New Orleans and coverage for uninsured people and other issues that don't impact me. Give me a webpage that says what each candidate will do for a 29 year-old married white male living in Los Angeles with an annual imcome of $xxxxx (I admit it; I make five figures) and nothing else.