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1 2B - The Mi~ an Daily - Wusea, ca- Best of Ann Arbor - ThursdApril 18, 1996
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i Media pushes envelope too far on young pilot story
One month ago, 7-year-old Jessica
Dubroff, her flight instructor and her
father announced that Jessica would
attempt to break the world record and
become the youngest person to fly
across the country. And the media
was there. A week and a half ago,
Jessica, her flight instructor and her
father flew successfully from
California to Cheyenne. And the
media was there. One week ago,
Jessica, her flight instructor and her
father attempted to leave Cheyenne
for the second stop on their flight.
Either through bad weather or bad
judgment, something went very
wrong. And you'd better believe, like
vultures, the media was there.
Katie Couric of the "Today"
show, who had interviewed Jessica
VOTED BEST SHOE STORE IN ANN ARBOR BY OUR STAFF!
and her father on a Monday as they
prepared to leave, interviewed her
grieving mother on the Friday after
the fatal crash. Every major paper
in the country ran front-page stories
and has run daily updates since, as
new information surfaces. These
same publications ran big stories
announcing Jessica's impending
flight in previous weeks. These
same publications would have run
stories had Jessica Dubroff's flight
been successful, but the stories
wouldn't have been quite so big.
Nothing sells like a tragedy,
especially one involving children.
Can the media be held at least
partially responsible for this
tragedy, as many people are
suggesting? Did the hype surround-
ing this event encourage the flight
instructor to allow a takeoff when
the weather was bad? Or was the
flight instructor solely responsible
for this decision, as the FAA
bigwigs are stating? Or was Jessica
Dubroff's family responsible for
what happened by supporting their
7-year-old child in her desire to act
on what might be viewed as an
Yet, after the fact, what is the value
in blame? The flight instructor isn't
here to defend himself. Neither is
Jessica's father. But the press
continues, swooping down over this
event, snatching it up to milk it for all
it's worth. In their zest to report what
is newsworthy, the press can push the
envelope too far. This may very well
be such a case.
Among journalists, there is
nothing so debated as ethics. The
New York Times boasts of exposing
"All the news that's fit to print."
Other major publications have
similar tag lines and approaches to
news (with the obvious exception
of alleged "newspapers" like "The
Inquirer"). Yet there is no set
standard that defines what exactly
is "fit to print." There is no set
standard that writers and editors
can look to when trying to deter-
mine the boundaries of reporting.
There is no set standard but
judgment, personal judgment.
If something seems newsworthy
but violates privacy is it still news
If something seems newsworthy
but jeopardizes someone's well-
being, is it still newsworthy?
If something seems news worthy
but indirectly results in people
getting killed, was it, in retrospect,
still news worthy?
It can be argued that, regardless
of the consequences, what is
worthy of being reported should.
be reported. Yet a 7-year-old girl,
her teacher and her father are
dead. They may have chosen to
takeoff from the ground that day
instead of waiting out the storm
because of the enormous expecta-
tions surrounding their venture.
The media helped create these
Granted, "the media" is a broad
term, incorporating all print,
television and other forms of news
reporting. While most individuals
within the media did not personally
report on this case and therefore
help foster the interest it sparked,
by being a part of the media, each
of these individuals is slightly
responsible or at least connected to
what happened. As a member of the
writing staff of a publication, that
I'm not proposing that the
media was responsible or should
be held responsible for this plane
crash, for this adventurous and
precocious little girl's death. But
it cannot be denied that the media
played a role.
It was a matter of judgment. Bad
judgment, all around. Bad judgment
by the media and bad judgment by
whomever let them takeoff from the
ground that day.
Bad judgment is an error that is
human and thus understandable, but
not without consequences. Unfortu-
nately, in this case. The conse-
quences outweighed the benefits.
Sometimes - no matter how
seemingly newsworthy - certain
events should simply be left alone.
-Alix can be reached over e-
mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best First-run Theater:
The State Theater
Now that they finally got rid of
the Pulp Fiction marathon, there's
actually room for some first-run
movies. Like that Academy Award
marthon thing they had going on.
That sure was cool. But what is the
deal with the weird seating and
screen positioning? It's kind of a
cool place to see a movie, and it
doesn't cost $6.75 like at Show-
Best Test Prep:
Someone suggested "going to
class" in this category. Yeah, right,
like why would you bother study-
ing the traditional way when you
could just sleep through classes and
give up the dough to up your score.
Of course, what's $1,000 when
you'll make $90,000 a year after
Best Video Store:
Everything under the sun, includ-
ing 300 copies of Forrest Gump.
And what great commericals they
have. We heard it takes certain
people hours to pick out videos -
some people even like picking out
the video more than actually watch-
ing it. Nevertheless, that's just what
Best Party Store:
Now, this place has a major stock-
pile of liquor. Wine, wine, and more
wine. But when will they get the
Cuban cigars? And how about those
Pez dispensers? Mmmmmmm. We
sure do like Pez here at The Michi-
gan Daily. But perhaps the greatest
thing about the Village Corner is
the singles of beer. What better way
to take a round the world trip than
Open 24 hours a day, and they
even have one-hour photo. Who
could ask for anything more? They
even have computers to rent - at a
nominal fee, of course. There are
also color copies - at a nominal
cost. And what about those color
ink copiers? A nominal fee again,
w NIERTAI I
went to d Cn
9. Bush admits the
7. Sure; everybod)
but what about the 0
for "literary" endeav
5. New fad: Ever
4. Carnie Wilson e
3. Courtney Love
1. The Blowfish hi
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Centrally located, the State Theater has been around a long time.
The top. Always have been.
Always will be. why? No hype.
There's no need. Put themon'
and you know. The best leathers,
Air-Cushioned sole. Craftsmanship.'
Made in England. Made to last. }
7r7pdo 0 /
Free billiards. Satellite sports. Retro Rock Dance Night w/DJ Chuck
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1220 South University 66S-7777
322 E. Liberty
1200 S. University
11ItA-MKS rDR 5HoIPJA
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