What are Australia’s obsessions?

Last night I went to a skin care product night at the Australia Shop in Covent Garden, London. I was waiting at the end of the night to purchase a skin treatment (you always end up buying more than you planned at those events, don’t you?) when I stumbled across a book.

This book was titled something like ‘The Xenophobes Guide to Australians’ and I had a quick flick through it.  Some things seemed rather obvious, such as the fact that we Australians like to hold cake sales (which was listed under culture, which I thought hilarious) but other things weren’t so.

One section was titled ‘Obsessions’. Underneath this is had ‘Australians are obsessed with car accidents’. At first I was stumped at that. Certainly we’re not ‘obsessed’ with car crashes?

But then it went on to say “The media love to report on car fatalities, especially around holidays such as Easter and Christmas. They love to keep a ‘road toll’ and tally the deaths in the newspaper.” On second thoughts, this was quite true.

At my old job in Australia I worked as a journalist for a community newspaper. I was in charge of the police round and this included going out to all the crash sites and getting the story. Not the most glamorous aspect to my job!

However, it was true – we reported on traffic accidents so much! I couldn’t count how many times we featured a car crash on the front page.

It was all in an attempt to make people more aware and to improve safety on the roads. But does it work? In the UK they hardly ever report car crashes, from what I can tell… yet less people seem to die on the roads. I’m not sure if this is because less people drive in the UK.
For example, in Britain in 2007, there were only 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people, whilst in Australia there were 8. So does the media really help the situation in Australia by reporting on it so extensively?


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2 Responses to “What are Australia’s obsessions?”

  1. Dave Says:

    I lost count of the accidents I had to report on when I was an ABC/GWN hack.
    I think we do it so much because we are so desperate for news…when there’s not much on a car crash is like an action god send to newsrooms, sounds sick but it’s the truth.
    Not sure if the reporting ever does any good though, though the road toll has lowered quite a bit.
    My old news producer used to call the progress made with lowering the road toll the ‘asymtotic limit’…ie the lowest possible occurence of the negative event, no matter what you do there will always be that certain number of accidents, he used to run a regional airline and that was their statistical demon for accidents.
    So no matter what is done, it will always occur. Which is a salve for bored jouros across Australia.

  2. Dude Says:

    “If it bleeds, it leads.” – journalism saying

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