Death on the luge

As you might imagine, there has been quite the tempest in a teapot over the airing of the fatal luge accident at the Olympics. Luge

I have no inside information on this, but Iím sure the phones were pretty active at KING after the footage aired.

But frankly, I wonder about that too: The viewership is so unengaged these days, thereís a chance the phones were dead silent and that this controversy is simply a product of the blogosphere, but it would be interesting to really know.

At any rate, the debate over whether to air this kind of footage has been a centerpiece of every ethics class in journalism (hold the guffaws please) since the media’s major tools consisted of a hammer, chisel and stone.

I differ here from many of my peers in the pointy-headed examination of the state of journalism because I am all in favor of showing the results of extreme sports, war, and man’s other social and economic failings.

One of my great pet peeves for years has been the consequence-free marketing of extreme sports. Damned near every man/woman, boy/girl that gets more than casually involved in extreme sports gets bashed. The list of lifelong injuries among this year’s cadre of Olympic athletes would probably fill your hard drive. That needs to be shown, repeatedly. These people don’t just show up and backflip off a ski jump – there were ten concussions and all kinds of other trauma off camera.

MTV had a show on for a while that actually featured the orthopedic mayhem of extreme sports, and I thought it was great. People need to see and hear the consequences of flipping motorcycles, leaping off half-pipes, pounding down mogul runs, and sliding down an ice tunnel at 90 miles per hour.

It is very, very hard to do a piece of journalism that changes actions or attitudes. But if seeing extreme sports athletes get terribly hurt, or even killed, causes one wanna’ be to have a second thought about the stupid stunt they’re about to pull to impress their idiot friends on Youtube, then it’s worth the risk we take offending the tender sensibilities of the viewing public that believes everything they see on TV.