Is this BBC report fair. Opinions wanted before I complain.

by Neil753   November 16, 2013  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24937699

The poor cyclist is described as in a "crash with a bus", the headline describes cyclists, in the opinion of bus drivers, as "unbelievable", and the accompanying media just takes the one sided reporting up a notch. The reporter makes no attempt to balance the report by interviewing any cyclists. Do people think this is all a little biased, or is my judgement clouded because I happen to be a cyclist? I'm tempted to complain about this, but I'll go by what readers think.

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I think the whole point here was to discuss such use of language as:

"cyclist died after colliding with lorry"

Luminosity's picture

posted by Luminosity [81 posts]
18th November 2013 - 14:09

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Luminosity wrote:
I think the whole point here was to discuss such use of language as:

"cyclist died after colliding with lorry"

that's kind of simon's point, and also mine. we use 'in a collision with' because it's neutral. 'collided with', as you've written above, isn't neutral.

'in a collision with' is currently the accepted phraseology in circumstances where the specifics aren't known, because it doesn't apportion blame to either party and nor does it rule out the possibility of blame, which accident does in a legal sense.

the only reason it's the cyclist first, and not the lorry or bus, is because the cyclist is the normally the subject of the sentence, because they've been injured or killed.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7597 posts]
18th November 2013 - 14:19

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Luminosity wrote:
Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Saying that a cyclist, car, whatever, was "in a collision" with another vehicle isn't "factually inaccurate" - it's neutral

Sorry to disagree but it's not - and it all comes down to semantics.

"a bus today was in a collision with a bicycle"

"a cyclist today was in a collision with a bus"

In the first instance what people will generally glean is that is was the BUS that did the colliding; in the second that it was the CYCLIST.

"an accident involving" is neutral.

In both cases those people would be wrong. Collide simply means to come together which is why "collide with" makes sense and "collide into" does not.

"The Earth collides with an asteroid" and "an asteroid collides with the Earth" mean exactly the same thing. The only difference is which object you consider to be the most important when you structure your sentence.

A headline like,

Cyclist seriously injured in collision with bus

Is correct, IMO, as the injury to the cyclist is more important than the existence of a collision.

Bus in collision with seriously injured cyclist

Is misleading. Was the cyclist seriously injured before the collision?

Bus in collision with cyclist who suffers serious injuries

Is unwieldy and makes the collision the subject of the sentence with the serious injuries as just additional information, which is inappropriate IMO.

Accident? How do we know that it was an accident until the collision has been thoroughly investigated? Maybe it was no accident, a jealous partner paid someone to run the unfortunate cyclist down on the way home from work?

We know for sure that a collision has taken place. IMO it is the most appropriate word to use in these circumstances, but never 'collide into'.

"Crash into" is only appropriate when a moving object hits a stationary one.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
18th November 2013 - 14:45

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GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

"The Earth collides with an asteroid" and "an asteroid collides with the Earth" mean exactly the same thing. The only difference is which object you consider to be the most important when you structure your sentence.

It seems to me there is a difference.

Consider, "the cyclist collided with the wall."
and "the wall collided with the cyclist."

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [319 posts]
18th November 2013 - 14:48

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Both the Earth and an asteroid are in motion. A wall isn't ..... well relative to the cyclist although it is attached to a planet travelling at very high speed. ... as is the cyclist ....

my head hurts. Nerd

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
18th November 2013 - 14:56

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GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

In both cases those people would be wrong. Collide simply means to come together which is why "collide with" makes sense and "collide into" does not.

"The Earth collides with an asteroid" and "an asteroid collides with the Earth" mean exactly the same thing. The only difference is which object you consider to be the most important when you structure your sentence.

A headline like,

Cyclist seriously injured in collision with bus

Is correct, IMO, as the injury to the cyclist is more important than the existence of a collision.

Bus in collision with seriously injured cyclist

Is misleading. Was the cyclist seriously injured before the collision?

Bus in collision with cyclist who suffers serious injuries

Is unwieldy and makes the collision the subject of the sentence with the serious injuries as just additional information, which is inappropriate IMO.

Accident? How do we know that it was an accident until the collision has been thoroughly investigated? Maybe it was no accident, a jealous partner paid someone to run the unfortunate cyclist down on the way home from work?

We know for sure that a collision has taken place. IMO it is the most appropriate word to use in these circumstances, but never 'collide into'.

"Crash into" is only appropriate when a moving object hits a stationary one.

Blimey, it's the grammatical equivalent of a tongue twister. But I agree. I think.....

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1324 posts]
18th November 2013 - 15:00

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GoingRoundInCycles wrote:
Both the Earth and an asteroid are in motion. A wall isn't ..... well relative to the cyclist although it is attached to a planet travelling at very high speed. ... as is the cyclist ....

my head hurts. Nerd

It is because the wall is stationary that it becomes apparent that the word order does make a difference. If the positioning of the words in the sentence made no difference to its meaning it would be possible to reverse the sentence and still make sense, since the meaning would be the same whichever way round.

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [319 posts]
18th November 2013 - 15:02

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wall and cyclist is a different use case. one is static and one is dynamic. a bus and a cyclist are both dynamic; a collision between them simply describes them coming together, it doesn't apportion cause or blame.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7597 posts]
18th November 2013 - 15:12

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felixcat wrote:
GoingRoundInCycles wrote:
Both the Earth and an asteroid are in motion. A wall isn't ..... well relative to the cyclist although it is attached to a planet travelling at very high speed. ... as is the cyclist ....

my head hurts. Nerd

It is because the wall is stationary that it becomes apparent that the word order does make a difference. If the positioning of the words in the sentence made no difference to its meaning it would be possible to reverse the sentence and still make sense, since the meaning would be the same whichever way round.

Because the wall is stationary it becomes apparent that 'collision with', is not appropriate at all in the sentence "wall collides with cyclist" as in the non-Physics sense, walls do not move. Most people would write that as "cyclist crashes into wall".

But "bicycle in collision with car" and "car in collision with bicycle" mean exactly the same thing, if both were moving at the time of the collision. They came together ..... Not in that sense, obviously.

Words. Worried

edit

or put more intelligently, wot Dave just said ^^^

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
18th November 2013 - 15:18

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GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

Because the wall is stationary it becomes apparent that 'collision with', is not appropriate at all in the sentence "wall collides with cyclist" as in the non-Physics sense, walls do not move. Most people would write that as "cyclist crashes into wall".

But "bicycle in collision with car" and "car in collision with bicycle" mean exactly the same thing, if both were moving at the time of the collision. They came together ..... Not in that sense, obviously.

"In collision with" and collides with" are not grammatically the same. I'm not going to labour this any more, but surely, if " the car collided with the bike" meant exactly the same as " the bike collided with the car" then "the bike collided with the wall" could be replaced with " the wall collided with the bike" without any problem.
I was quibbling about "collides with" not "in collision with".

felixcat's picture

posted by felixcat [319 posts]
18th November 2013 - 15:43

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AFAIK

"a bicycle collided with a bus" is less neutral than "there was a collision involving a bus and bicycle".

Granted, the former is a more engaging way of writing the copy and more interesting for the reader. It is also one commonly used.

I think we can argue semantics all day and not come to any conclusion or meeting of minds and that certainly seems to be the case here.

The "collided with" quote was from the BBC and it was one we were attempting to find a better use of language to describe so that, perhaps, ultimately we can suggest to the BBC and others (when their report p*ss us off) that they might attempt to alter the editorial to find a better way of expressing the incident without inference, through what might be lazy or populist journalism, that it was the cyclist who was the cause of the event. I guess if you think it's neutral there's no inference there. To me there is - even if it's just a hint.

If you consider, for example, over these last few weeks that the headlines had been:

"tipper truck collides with cyclist"
"London bus collides with cyclist"
"HGV collides with cyclist"

rather than (for example)

"cyclist collides with tipper truck"
"cyclist collides with London bus"
"cyclist collides with HGV"

to me, at least, the inference is clear.

Luminosity's picture

posted by Luminosity [81 posts]
18th November 2013 - 16:58

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Luminosity wrote:
I guess if you think it's neutral there's no inference there. To me there is - even if it's just a hint.

If you consider, for example, over these last few weeks that the headlines had been:

"tipper truck collides with cyclist"
"London bus collides with cyclist"
"HGV collides with cyclist"

rather than (for example)

"cyclist collides with tipper truck"
"cyclist collides with London bus"
"cyclist collides with HGV"

to me, at least, the inference is clear.

They are all interchangeable because 'collides with' does not mean 'crashes into'. Those six headlines mean two vehicles in motion tried to occupy the same space.

In any case, none of those incidents are newsworthy IMO. What is very much newsworthy, IMO, is a serious injury or fatality occuring due to a collision.

So which is better?

Cyclist seriously injured in collision with tipper truck

or

Tipper truck collides with cyclist who is now seriously injured

The second is unsatisfactory IMO but maybe you can come up with a better version.

Never in a hurry on a bicycle.

posted by GoingRoundInCycles [134 posts]
18th November 2013 - 17:57

6 Likes

It's an opinion piece, so I reckon it's fair enough. And from what I have observed on the roads, I can understand their point of view. There are some real kamikazis out there on bikes who are quite prepared to take on a bus.

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

jmaccelari's picture

posted by jmaccelari [188 posts]
18th November 2013 - 18:07

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GoingRoundInCycles wrote:
'collides with' does not mean 'crashes into'

No, but it implies it does.

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
18th November 2013 - 19:05

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Gman59c wrote:
Equating the way cyclists are treated in the media to racism is really poor taste.

Prejudice is prejudice, it is judging a person based on their race, sex religion, disability, age, sexual type, etc.

All prejudices are wrong, I don't think you understood the purpose of my post and I don't see why it is in poor taste at all. Britain has a serious anti-cycling prejudices, this silly idea that cycling is for children or cyclists should only be mountain biking off-road, or all cyclists are law-breakers.

If you think my post is in bad taste then you need to explain why. The prejudices I have met on the road have been life-threatening at times, the behavior of some anti-cyclist drivers is scary, they have 2-ton weapons and when they are careless with them, they just get a slap on the wrist, if anything.

posted by kie7077 [604 posts]
18th November 2013 - 21:01

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Well said, there is an anti-cycling bias in this country. It is perceived as a childish thing to do, and you should really grow up and buy a car.

posted by dreamlx10 [146 posts]
18th November 2013 - 21:13

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Never really noticed a bias until people said there was one. But even then I think it's more imagined than real. People have hated me for irrational reasons, but most people like me and I feel that attitudes to cycling are similar. Most people have ridden a bike and enjoyed it. Some people are knobs and resent anything in their way. You can get a bit of skewed perspective if the only conversation you have about cycling is with a raging idiot and similarly, if the only time you read about cycling in the press is about people dying while cycling, or people complaining about cyclist RLJing. Most people think cycling is a good thing.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1324 posts]
18th November 2013 - 22:03

8 Likes

Quote:
All prejudices are wrong,..

Not strictly true. Prejudice is about prejudging, which we all do whether we will admit it or not. Having prejudices in itself is not a bad thing, it's what you do with them that causes problems and leads to stereotyping (see below), labelling and discrimination.

Quote:
I don't think you understood the purpose of my post and I don't see why it is in poor taste at all. Britain has a serious anti-cycling prejudices, this silly idea that cycling is for children or cyclists should only be mountain biking off-road, or all cyclists are law-breakers.

This is not prejudice, this is stereotyping where one aspect of a person or group is taken to be the defining factor.

Quote:
If you think my post is in bad taste then you need to explain why. The prejudices I have met on the road have been life-threatening at times, the behavior of some anti-cyclist drivers is scary, they have 2-ton weapons and when they are careless with them, they just get a slap on the wrist, if anything.

What you have experienced is probably not prejudice but a demonstration of poor driving and arrogance on the part of other road users.

To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic and therefore our treatment by certain sections of the media and the public cannot be equated with racism.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [637 posts]
19th November 2013 - 8:49

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Quote:
To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your ... religion ... Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic

Perhaps a social media campaign in the run up to the next census to rival the Jedi in 2001 could sort that out. Wink

posted by tarquin_foxglove [98 posts]
20th November 2013 - 12:08

7 Likes

tarquin_foxglove wrote:
Quote:
To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your ... religion ... Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic

Perhaps a social media campaign in the run up to the next census to rival the Jedi in 2001 could sort that out. Wink

If we could convince them that 'Cycling', in all its forms is either a religion or a belief system then it might just work Big Grin

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [637 posts]
20th November 2013 - 12:18

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jova54 wrote:
To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic and therefore our treatment by certain sections of the media and the public cannot be equated with racism.

That is strictly a legal definition.

Outside the legal system people have all sorts of prejudices that aren't listed on the legal books, to say something doesnt exist because it's not explicitly mentioned in some volume of law is daft.

posted by kie7077 [604 posts]
20th November 2013 - 17:42

7 Likes

jova54 wrote:
Quote:
All prejudices are wrong,..

Not strictly true. Prejudice is about prejudging, which we all do whether we will admit it or not. Having prejudices in itself is not a bad thing, it's what you do with them that causes problems and leads to stereotyping (see below), labelling and discrimination.

Quote:
I don't think you understood the purpose of my post and I don't see why it is in poor taste at all. Britain has a serious anti-cycling prejudices, this silly idea that cycling is for children or cyclists should only be mountain biking off-road, or all cyclists are law-breakers.

This is not prejudice, this is stereotyping where one aspect of a person or group is taken to be the defining factor.

Quote:
If you think my post is in bad taste then you need to explain why. The prejudices I have met on the road have been life-threatening at times, the behavior of some anti-cyclist drivers is scary, they have 2-ton weapons and when they are careless with them, they just get a slap on the wrist, if anything.

What you have experienced is probably not prejudice but a demonstration of poor driving and arrogance on the part of other road users.

To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic and therefore our treatment by certain sections of the media and the public cannot be equated with racism.

discrimination:
I was looking to exit (to the right) a t-junction yesterday, the flow of traffic was constant, on-one stopped to let me out, perhap 20 cars passed.
next very similar junction up a car was exiting the junction in a similar manner, the 3rd car stoped to let them out. That is discrimination and it is a very repeatable test.

I stopped in a traffic jam to allow a vehicle to enter the side road, even though there was a traffic jam and very little space in front of me, the vehicle behind honked and went round me, refusing the other vehicle passage - they would never have done that to another motor vehicle - again, this is clear-cut discrimination.

Just because you haven't noticed it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

And dont get me started about drivers who try and get between you and the car in front even when you're having no problem keeping up with traffic and you've only got a 2 second gap in front of you. Again clearly discrimination, regardless of what some old fart wrote in a law book.

posted by kie7077 [604 posts]
20th November 2013 - 18:07

7 Likes

dupe post

posted by kie7077 [604 posts]
20th November 2013 - 18:08

7 Likes

kie7077 wrote:

discrimination:
I was looking to exit (to the right) a t-junction yesterday, the flow of traffic was constant, on-one stopped to let me out, perhap 20 cars passed.
next very similar junction up a car was exiting the junction in a similar manner, the 3rd car stoped to let them out. That is discrimination and it is a very repeatable test.

I stopped in a traffic jam to allow a vehicle to enter the side road, even though there was a traffic jam and very little space in front of me, the vehicle behind honked and went round me, refusing the other vehicle passage - they would never have done that to another motor vehicle - again, this is clear-cut discrimination.

Just because you haven't noticed it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

And dont get me started about drivers who try and get between you and the car in front even when you're having no problem keeping up with traffic and you've only got a 2 second gap in front of you. Again clearly discrimination, regardless of what some old fart wrote in a law book.

You really don't get it do you? Rolling Eyes

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [637 posts]
20th November 2013 - 18:48

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kie7077 wrote:
jova54 wrote:
To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic and therefore our treatment by certain sections of the media and the public cannot be equated with racism.

That is strictly a legal definition.

Outside the legal system people have all sorts of prejudices that aren't listed on the legal books, to say something doesnt exist because it's not explicitly mentioned in some volume of law is daft.

You are confusing prejudice and discrimination and it does nothing to support your original assertion equating our treatment as racism.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

jova54's picture

posted by jova54 [637 posts]
20th November 2013 - 18:51

3 Likes

Just to drag this, kicking and screaming, back to the original question.

No! It is not fair, reasoned and unbiased. This is stated to be a report not an opinion piece and because of this infringes the remit of the BBC.

I have no problem with opinion pieces but they must be flagged as such and carry the disclaimer that the opinions given do not necessarily represent the opinions of the BBC.

As to the other debate. X was in collision with Y does give the impression that X was the prime mover. I also don't like "a cyclist was in collision with" , what's wrong with "a cycle was..." We don't use "a car driver was...", "a lorry driver was..." or "a bus driver was..."

posted by levermonkey [467 posts]
4th February 2014 - 16:24

7 Likes

jova54 wrote:

basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic and therefore our treatment by certain sections of the media and the public cannot be equated with racism.

Religion would certainly work Rolling Eyes both for car drivers and cyclists.

Alternatively, maybe, sexual orientation ... Day Dreaming I really, really love my bike? No? Plain Face

Got milk? Doesn't fit in your bottle cage? Get a Carton Cage.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [356 posts]
4th February 2014 - 18:02

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To be fair to the BBC, they do seem to have become (slightly) more careful about this sort of reporting, but there's clearly room for improvement.

I have noticed that if one spots a real "howler", and they receive complaints, the actual wording sometimes gets changed and then you get a letter claiming they can't find the instance to which you were referring. So always grab a screen shot.

OP, if you do decide to complain, I would recommend emailing, rather than phoning, and taking it higher if you are not satisfied. Good luck.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
5th February 2014 - 22:45

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jova54 wrote:

To be discriminated against you need to have one of your Protected Characteristics, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, identified as the basis for the discriminatory action; i.e your age, gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation etc. Unfortunately being a cyclist is not a protected characteristic and therefore our treatment by certain sections of the media and the public cannot be equated with racism.

This seems an extremely silly argument. The meanings of words are not defined by acts of parliament!

There's the legal situation, what the balance of power in any given society/state will allow you to take action on, and there's reality. The two are not synonymous!

If you are just saying it can't be used as a basis for legal action, that is perfectly true. But it doesn't change the common meaning of 'discrimination' as an English word.

There's a massive pro-motorist bias in this society and cyclists and pedestrians alike are clearly discrimated against (given far less than their just share of public space, for example).

Many things were not legally defined as discriminatory in past decades, didn't mean they weren't.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [811 posts]
6th February 2014 - 0:18

4 Likes

GoingRoundInCycles wrote:

But "bicycle in collision with car" and "car in collision with bicycle" mean exactly the same thing, if both were moving at the time of the collision. They came together ..... Not in that sense, obviously.

Words. Worried

edit

or put more intelligently, wot Dave just said ^^^

Don't think so. They carry quite different implications. In one the cycist is the active subject the car the passive object. In the other the reverse.

Now the difference is reduced significantly by the use of the more passive 'in collision with' rather than 'collides with', so its not so bad in that form. The bias is far clearer in the case of 'cyclist collides with...'.

But grammatically the distinction is surely pretty simple? - one is subject the other object. The subject is the active party, the 'do-er'. That's just basic grammar, no?

Edit - the more I think about it, though, the more I think the 'in collision with' form is far less objectionable than when it uses 'collides with'. While still seeming to make the cyclist the subject, it emphasises just involvement rather than causation. They were 'in' the collision, not necessarily doing the colliding.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [811 posts]
6th February 2014 - 0:25

6 Likes