Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Not every detail is relevant.

Like many other Boston-dwellers, I was perturbed by the Green Line crash last week. All the more so because the driver of the offending train was sending a text message to his girlfriend at the time of the accident.

Naturally, an incident like that is going to set the mainstream media on fire - heck of a story we're doing, Brownie.

But something that might have upset me even more than the crash itself was a detail included in some of the stories, entirely unnecessarily.

Boston Globe story
WHDH story (AP)
WBZ story (AP)

Those three stories all exclude something specific. These next three stories do not:

Boston Herald story
FOX 25 story
WCVB story (first to mention, by my notice)

What do those last three have that the first three do not? The information that the driver of the train transitioned from female to male in the recent past, including a name change from Georgia Anne Quinn to Aiden Quinn. Two of those last three (predictably, the Herald and FOX) make this little tidbit the crux of their story.

How is this newsworthy? Does Aiden Quinn's gender identity play any sort of role in his capacity to drive an MBTA train? Yes, the fact that he has speeding violations in the past is pertinent, and yes, it's worth a story. But nothing about those Herald and FOX stories has any relevance to the story at hand. It's sensationalistic, "look, this guy is different!" coverage.

Not only is Quinn's gender identity irrelevant to the story, disclosing it so flippantly goes against every rule of LGBT courtesy out there. It's absolutely unacceptable to out someone's gender identity or expression in so public a forum - it is Quinn's business and nobody else's.

People wonder why the media get a bad rap. It's crap like this.

1 comment:

  1. "It's sensationalistic, 'look, this guy is different!' coverage."

    One could argue that's why Obama is president.

    I agree that it's probably irrelevant to the crash, but it is still a detail about the person behind it. Fox/WCVB/Herald coverage is what it is.