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Why the astronauts and not any other crash victims?(9 posts)

Why the astronauts and not any other crash victims?retro
Feb 3, 2003 2:43 PM
On Jan 8, 21 people were killed in a commuter-plane crash in North Carolina. A couple of weeks ago someplace in the Middle East (even I can't remember), 80 or so people were killed in another air crash. Nobody paid any attention, nobody remembers or can name even one of the victims.
Why should the deaths of seven people doing a very dangerous job come as such a surprise and shock to us, particularly when most of us didn't even know for sure there was a shuttle up there or who was on it?
fame and mediaColnagoFE
Feb 3, 2003 3:19 PM
because anyone can fly in a plane, but not many get to go into space. it's a unique event and the media plays it for all they can. it's more the symbolism of the event than the actual event that captivates us. picture a cyclist being killed by a car is maybe local news at best. if lance got killed by a car it would be national news.
cross post on whyTig
Feb 3, 2003 4:08 PM
I posted this on the General board, and added a few lines:

Public interest drives the press. Drama drives public interests. The media loves drama as well, and gladly serves it up. I see articles every week about scores of people dieing in terrible accidents around the world, yet few are mentioned on a front page or broadcast. The lack of a common ground or connection between the victims and viewers puts many stories on the back page. We can't just blame the media, but the general public. We get used to high death tolls and it becomes commonplace. The cost of a fast paced society that gets caught up in their own concerns can create a callous attitude towards sad events. If it isn't close to home, we tend to not take it to heart. Media overload is also a cause.

Astronauts are public figures. Unlike egotistical movie stars or sports heroes, astronauts are part of a positive drive to improve the world and human existence through science and discovery. Not to say astronauts don't have egos. I've know quite a few, and some were very cocky! Most are wonderful people I'm glad to have as neighbors. The loss here is like a death in the family.

Most people in the world are basically on the receiving/using end of cultural and scientific advances. Too few are directly part of the evolution of mankind. No life should be more or less valuable than another, but those who take huge risks to improve the world should be respected and honored. The dramatic loss of American science and technology's icon, a manned spacecraft, has always been a blow to national pride.

The seven victims of the avalanche in British Columbia are no less important. They all had families and friends like the seven astronauts had. They chose to take a risk by backcountry skiing. The difference is that they weren't public figures working for our benefit. They were enjoying nature doing what they loved, like we love cycling. They made the choice to take the risk, but no one came along and ran them over except nature. Getting run over by a negligent driver becomes a crime in a moral and legal sense. Dieing in a shuttle re-entry due to yet unknown causes is a tragic loss for the whole world, even if 90% of humans have no idea how the tens of thousands of technological spin-offs have or will improve their lives. I have an old T-shirt from a past Space Awareness day that says, "Each Mission Improves Your World".
re: Why the astronauts and not any other crash victims?Alpedhuez55
Feb 3, 2003 4:45 PM
Actually the North Carolina crash was bigger news here in Boston than in other parts of the country since a few of the victims worked for a local company, W.R. Grace. It was the lead story for a few nights here. It was a local story though. Sure dozens of people die on the roads every day, but Erndhardt or Senna dying on a racetrack with thousands watching in perons and millions on TV is a national or worldwide story. I would think someone who worked in the media would know why the Columbia would be a bigger story than a commuter plane crash.

The space program is important and has many benfits to mankind. The Space Shuttle is a national symbol as well. It shows our techical superiority. Most Americans take great pride in the space program. We feel disappointment when something like this happend, especially when there are lives lost.

Sure it is dangerous and astronauts are no longer household names like they were in the 60s. We still recognize the importance and value of NASA.

Mike Y.
Becausecyclopath
Feb 4, 2003 1:27 AM
no one needs to think about this one. It's big, every one knows what it was, how much it cost (at least as far as "lots") - it saves the media a job of having to get anyone to give a damn. Plus folk think that if NASA are throwing the kind of money at this that would feed the entireity of Africa for the forseeable future, it ought not to fall apart in the sky so often and kill everyone. It's unusual, that's basically all - plane and car deaths aren't.
Here is an editorial cartoon to consider...RhodyRider
Feb 4, 2003 7:18 AM
only you can saytarwheel
Feb 4, 2003 10:15 AM
Would you drop what you were doing to watch TV or listen to the radio about an airplane crash in another state involving people you don't know? Would you bother reading long articles in the newspaper? I doubt it. What drives news coverage is public interest. If nobody cared, the news wouldn't bother covering it (or devoting much space or time to it).

What gets me is why so many people try to blame the media for providing the public what it wants. If people quit watching TV news, reading the newspaper, etc, the news media would find a better way to cover the news or go out of business. By and large, the media is driven by public demands -- not the other way around, despite what some people claim. That's one reason why the media tend to broadcast/publish more and more news about celebrities, sex, violence, accidents -- because people watch or read that stuff. In an opinion poll or a conversation, people may claim to want to know more about the school board or science or public policy. But, in reality, the unfortunate fact is that people tend to gravitate toward the fluff, sex and violence.
Exactly! -nmTig
Feb 5, 2003 6:56 AM
easyFunston
Feb 4, 2003 11:26 AM
Bluntly speaking, airplanes and crashes are old hat. Rather pedestrian. Beyond a personal connection to an incident, they're not going to stir interest unless there's something unique about the accident (high # of fatalities, special and unique circumstances, etc.)

The shuttle program is our future. This shuttle crash was about our dreams that came crashing down. Reality delivering an unexpected blow. An unsettling moment that we never predicted happening.

Now tell me why the media gets all worked up over a bomb killing 9 people in Israel, but yawns when a bomb kills 20 people in some unknown country in Africa or Asia.