Road collisions media guidelines consultation launched
A consultation on draft media reporting guidelines designed to help improve coverage of road collisions has been launched.
Designed by the University of Westminster’s Active Travel Academy and a panel of experts, the guidelines are intended to help journalists, publishers and broadcasters uphold best practice in reporting and “improve the public debate around road safety”.
A statement on the Road Collisions Reporting Guidelines website noted that: “Collisions and their causes are too often misinterpreted or misrepresented. By confusing public debate, this risks hampering genuine progress in tackling road crime and improving road safety.”
The proposed guidelines encourage a combination of fundamental accuracy, avoiding discrimination, upholding impartiality and responsible reporting on crime. For example, the guidelines recommend that: "Publishers must not use the term 'accident' when describing road collisions – 'collision', or 'crash', are more accurate, especially when the facts of the incident are not known" because "using the word ‘accident’ suggests an unavoidable incident – which publishers equally won’t know is true".
Commenting, John Ranson from the National Union of Journalists' ethics council said: "Good reporting should inform. It should help the public understand what has happened. And good opinion journalism should provoke debate and challenge the audience. But too much of the media's coverage of road collisions has played into and reinforced lazy generalisations. We hope these guidelines will equip journalists to report on road collisions with accuracy and humanity, bringing the same standards of integrity to this topic as to any other."
The consultation on these proposed guidelines is open until midnight on November 8 2020. If you would like to contribute, a link to the consultation form can be found here.
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