Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Discrepancies in News Reporting

Out of curiosity, I decided to pick a random news article within current events and see how various online news sources covered it. I chose the traffic accident involving Michelle Obama's van and the motorcyclist from Iowa.

The Swamp, Chicago Tribune
Michelle Obama's van involved in Iowa crash
The motorcycle was driven by Timothy Emerson, 41, of Iowa Falls, Iowa, according to the sheriff's department.

Salem News
Michele Obama's Van Crashes Into Motorcycle During Iowa Campaign
The motorcyclist, 40-year-old Tim Emerson of Iowa Falls, is a hydraulic mechanic according to media reports. The rider reportedly came to a landing on fairly soft ground, he did not have a crash helmet on.

Mason City Globe Gazette
Motorcycle, Obama campaign vehicle collide
The cyclist was 41-year-old Timothy Scott Emerson of Iowa Falls.

Chicago Tribune
Michelle Obama involved in crash
The cyclist, identified by the Franklin County Sheriff's Department as Timothy Emerson, 41, of Iowa Falls, Iowa, was injured and airlifted to a hospital. A nursing supervisor at Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, Iowa, said late Tuesday that Emerson was treated and released.

Associated Press
Obama's Wife's Vehicle in Collision
The motorcyclist was injured and taken to the hospital, said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama. The vehicle was hit by the motorcycle as it attempted a left turn just south of Hampton, where Michelle Obama was due at a rally.

Chicago Sun-Times
Michelle Obama not hurt in Iowa car crash
The motorcyclist, whose name has not been released, was injured and a medical helicopter was at the scene.

FOX News
Michelle Obama Involved in Car Accident
The motorcyclist, who the Washington Post identified as 40-year-old Tim Emerson, was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. He was taken to a nearby hospital.

Hampton Chronicle
Wife of candidate delayed by crash
At the entrance to Maynes Grove Park, four miles south of Hampton on U.S. Highway 65, Obama witnessed a serious crash involving a van and a motorcycle. The motorcycle's rider was airlifted by Mercy Air Life to an undisclosed hospital.

Washington Post
Michele Obama in Iowa Accident
The motorcyclist, 40-year-old Iowa Falls hydraulic mechanic Tim Emerson, landed on grass softened by three inches of weekend rain and lay still with a cut on his head. He was not wearing a helmet."He got in a little bit of a hurry and tried to go around everybody," said Mark Kellar, a friend of Emerson's riding another motorcycle. "I didn't believe he was going that way at an intersection. He went around two other cars that he shouldn't have."

no coverage

It looks to me like there's no definitive information on how old he is. Some papers caught his nickname, others reported his full name and profession, and one claimed that information was not released. The Washington Post got a very good quote from a friend of the motorcyclist, that was unique among all the reporting I read.

Some papers had headlines that mispelled Mrs. Obama's first name (sloppy!), and others implied that the van hit the motorcyclist - only upon reading the article was it revealed that the motorcycle drove into the van. Stating that the van drove into the motorcyclist would be misinformation, but stating that the van "collided" with the motorcycle seems to be vague enough wording to insinuate that Mrs. Obama was at fault, but if called to task the article can testify that this was not precisely the case.

FOX News and Salem News both report the motorcyclist as being 40 and specifically indicate he was not wearing a helmet. I'd guess they draw their news from the same source. The Washington Post indicated these too but had substantially more information. I would wonder if FOX News and Salem News chose to cut out parts of the wire they received.

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