Home' Heliweb Magazine : Heliweb Magazine January 2017 Contents 16 | heliweb magazine
From the Desk Of...
The Media Effect
Publisher & Editor
Ryan has worked in the aviation media field for the last nine years. Providing
video, photographic and written content for U.S and international aviation
publications. Also a former police officer, Ryan has written for numerous
law enforcement publications, specializing in technology, tactics, police
equipment and airborne law enforcement. Ryan purchased heliweb with a
goal of providing real stories on real issues in the industry and giving back to
the industry through efforts to promote safety in helicopter operations.
The recent results of the U.S election were
an eye opener to many who blindly trusted
the news media. Their single news coverage
supporting one candidate over the other,
caught out multiple times collaborating with
who they thought would be the eventual
winner, seemingly without a care in the
What they failed to realize, was in their
efforts to please the candidate, advertisers,
and what they thought was their adoring
and clueless viewership, the mainstream
media neglected to account for one thing;
A complete and utter revolt of viewers
switching off, never to return. Their
reputation as a legitimate, fair, and impartial
news source in tatters.
Research has shown both before and after
the election, people turning away from
traditional news networks in the wake of
apparent bias and supporting agendas
versus reporting the news as it happens.
Choosing instead to interject personal
opinions on each story. Ignoring the
cornerstone ethics that shaped decades of
Reporters are now rushing to report the
“collective feeling” around a situation instead
of any facts. Often rushing to a conclusion and
airing it during a broadcast.
The media no longer has a conscience
for consequences of reporting incorrect
In the Helicopter industry, we suffer the same
fate. Social media spreads news of a crash
faster on Facebook than a police officer can
locate a family to notify them of the loss of a
loved one before they see it online.
The mainstream media is failing at actually
verifying stories, especially when it comes
to our industry. In many cases, stories are reported
by someone with no knowledge of helicopters,
expected by their editor to form a story and
become an instant expert.
Faced with that reality, a reporter makes
assumptions based on commentary from others
who may also have no aviation background.
Gone are the days when television and print
media would result in a rush to find an aviation
expert that they could talk to or consult before
publishing a story to make sure it was factually
correct concerning our industry. It is now a rush
to be first.
Take the case of the recent Robinson R22
accident we reported on recently in Los
Angeles. Within hours, all four of the local
affiliate stations were running stories.
In the same time-period, if you looked at several
social media groups dedicated to helicopters,
hundreds of comments had been posted about
Some are already condemning Robinson as a
helicopter and as a company. As the wreckage
was located, the headlines began again almost
immediately. Headlines like “Helicopters
manufactured by company in recent crash
involved in multiple prior accidents” or “Brand
of helicopter used in flight that killed pilot and
photographer previously grounded in other
These so called stories, going to great lengths
to tie a manufacturer to crashes that occurred
months, or years before. Some of the incidents
mentioned, with reports from the NTSB that
clear the manufacturer of fault. Something
found in about 5 minutes of Google searching.
This is the kind of irresponsible journalism that
we as a publication never want to be a part of.
What I am getting at is that just because an
incident occurs, doesn’t mean a helicopter
company, pilot or manufacturer should be
immediately dragged over the coals before any
facts are known.
Do we report on current incidents? Sure,
often from first-hand accounts from the scene.
However, we do try to get as much information
as possible to get it right.
You might be saying in your head “well, he
is just a Robinson fanboy.” However, I use
Robinson’s treatment as an example. Other
companies such as Sikorsky and CHC are being
dragged through the same mud of speculative
reporting currently with the S-92, the same as
Airbus and Bell have been on any one of many
situations previously. It is our job as an industry
to not further speculation without facts.
We are not interested in being first, we are
interested in being correct. This industry more
so than others can be merciless when you get
things wrong, which is a good motivator to get
things right. However, ethically, we also want
to do the right thing for everyone involved and
not damage brand reputations through lazy
reporting or speculation. I wish the same could
be said for our counterparts in the mainstream
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