A story this week, and not just this one, or just this week, tells us what the media, and a sector of the population, think about us, proving the old saying, ‘Even if you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you’. The trucking industry is constantly being attacked for no other reason than it is clickbait on websites and gets viewers on rubbish tabloid TV.
The latest crime against reasonable thought is brought to us by the, normally reasonable, Canberra Times. The newspaper (?) uses a positive good news story with a spin which is unwarranted and intrinsically untrue in its presentation.
Let’s look at the story. This is, at heart, a good news story, probably originally generated by Ron Finemore Transport, about the good work they are doing. It’s about better productivity and safety outcomes for a responsible trucking operator, which also goes the extra mile to improve safety outcomes by fitting fatigue monitoring in its trucks.
In fact, we can tell that the author, Peter Brewer, meant the story to be presented as a positive one because the original title for the piece was , ‘Permit allows bigger B-doubles on the road to fill our supermarket shelves’.
That permit was for 30 metre B-doubles run by Finemores, which are capable of handling 17 to 22 per cent more freight, meaning, ‘greater efficiency, less emissions and increased productivity’. Manoeuvrability is maintained because there are three steering axles on the trailers, we are told.
The reporter even quoted Mark Parry, from Finemores, who explained that the permit was not issued because of the pandemic but it was “certainly a catalyst which helped it to happen”. He was also quoted as saying, “With every five or six loads, you basically save a load.” Commendable stuff!
It is what happened next to this story which proves my initial point that, ‘Even if you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you’. When loading the story onto the website a bright spark in the team decided this story just didn’t have that ‘Zing!’ to attract website clicks.
So what did they do? They dug through the story to find the nugget they needed. Finally, right at the end of the story, they found what they were looking for. It was a footnote about how the Seeing Machines fatigue monitoring company had seen, in its data, a 17 per cent increase in truck trips in the last five months.
The final paragraph, referring to the pandemic, said, “It’s been tough on the drivers, too, with fatigue events per hours driven increased by 11 per cent, and distraction events up by 8 per cent.”
So guess what the website team decided to have as a headline? Of course it had to be, ‘Heavy haulage driver fatigue events have gone up 11 per cent in the past five months’.
I haven’t wasted my time complaining to the Canberra Times about this kind of biased reporting, but thought the trucking industry needs to know what people are saying about them. I am pretty sure the people at Finemores will be pretty pissed off at their story being used to bag trucking.
How did the readership react to the story? Well, for ‘Lexman’ it was clear that it, ‘will be interesting to see whether these trucks do indeed maintain safe distances to other vehicles, and obey the speed limits. God knows many don’t now! And the last thing we should applaud is bigger, heavier, more dangerous vehicles on the roads, especially in towns/cities, where some already cannot go around a roundabout!’
Thanks Canberra Times! Even if you are paranoid about about being unfairly attacked about biased reporting!