Saturday, October 14, 2006
Putting the brakes on 'Drive-by media'
The bitterness over coverage of the Duke lacrosse case continues. A recent comment on a News & Observer blog suggested that "you people in the DriveBy Media" cover a visit by a Brooklyn College professor who has an interest in the case.

The comment illustrates the abuse of the term "drive-by media." It's frequently used by critics of the press such as radio personality Rush Limbaugh. Here is how he defined these members of the media:
They are exactly like drive-by shooters. They pull up to a congested area; they spray a hail of bullets into the crowd. It causes mass hysteria, confusion, mistakes and misinterpretation. sometimes people and their careers actually die, and then the drive-by media smirks and they ride away, unnoticed in the excitement.
Without a doubt, some reporters (usually from broadcast, not print) make careers out of "parachuting in" to cover a hot topic and then scamper away when things cool off. Greta Van Susteren, Rita Cosby and Geraldo Rivera are members of this crowd. To equate their work to the random violence of a drive-by shooting doesn't really work as a metaphor, however. And it certainly shouldn't be used as a catch-all insult for coverage you don't like.

Regardless of the usefulness of the term, the comment on the N&O blog gets it backward: Say what you will about the coverage of the lacrosse case by the N&O and the rival Herald-Sun, but they aren't driving by. They live here. They aren't going anywhere. A professor from hundreds of miles away is more likely to be the one to come to town, raise a ruckus and then leave, unnoticed in the excitement.
posted by Andy Bechtel at 5:49 PM | Permalink |