The BBC are still having trouble with their language

In June, following the conviction of a driver who killed a cyclist by ploughing into him while rummaging in his footwell for a dropped satnav, I noted how the BBC chose to report the death, at the time.

A charity cyclist has died in road accident [sic] while on a trip from John O’ Groats to Land’s End. Arthur Platt, 37, from Lyndhurst, Hampshire, died in hospital on Tuesday after his bicycle crashed into a car on the A442 in Telford, Shropshire.

An interesting choice of words.

Over the weekend, another cyclist was killed, this time on Holloway Road in London, after he was struck by a bus. Initial reports suggest the cyclist was ‘doored’; diverted into the path of the bus by the driver of parked car, who evidently failed to check whether it was safe to open his or her car door. The driver has been arrested, and bailed.

How are the BBC reporting the sequence of events?

A cyclist killed in north London may have hit an open car door immediately before he was knocked down by a bus, the Metropolitan Police has said.

I wonder if the BBC would describe a situation in which a car was deflected into the path of another vehicle by a lorry that failed to stop at a give-way line from a side road as ‘a car hitting the lorry.’ It would be entirely absurd. We would say that the lorry hit the car, not the other way around.

Yet when a cyclist is struck by a car door that was opened with insufficient time for him to avoid it, the rules are reversed. The cyclist apparently hit the car door, rather than the car door propelling him into the path of the bus.

Cyclists. If they aren’t crashing themselves into the cars of motorists rummaging around by their feet, they’re fatally deflecting themselves off car doors. There are plenty of other examples of logic-defying BBC scenarios.

UPDATE – the cyclist has been named. Sam Harding. The Islington Gazette also notes that 

Mr Harding is the third cyclist who has died on Islington’s roads this year. Dr Colin Hawkes, 64, a leading child protection expert, was killed in a collision in Carleton Road, Holloway, in January, while painter and decorator Gavin Taylor, 40, died in Wolsey Road, Newington Green, in April. 

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2 Responses to The BBC are still having trouble with their language

  1. Kim says:

    It is worrying that the BBC still have the habit of blaming the victim, they take their lead from the rest of the media, which is funded by advertising. The motor industry spends over £830m a year on advertising…

  2. Mr C. says:

    It irritates me that they have repeatedly used the “neutrality card” in response to complaints about this use of language. To most of us it seems obvious that simply reversing the responsibility for the collision from the perpetrator to the victim is not the same as neutrality. Neutrality would read more like “A man was injured today on [X Road] after his cycle was involved in a collision with a motor vehicle pulling onto [X Road] from [Y Road].”

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