Reporter Steven Luke crossed the line from sloppy reporting to open editorializing when he wrote, “the message isn’t sinking in...some drivers continued to defy laws and logic by driving drunk.” When I asked Luke whether he intended to sermonize, he stated, “The journalist’s job is to serve the public. I try to be down the middle as much as I can, but when it comes to real drunk driving — where people are arrested — no one’s in favor of that.”
At least one message-board poster took this as a cue to agitate for an even more Draconian crackdown — permanent car confiscation for first offenders and the “firing squad” for recidivists.
By contrast, the local peacock affiliate took on a different tone when it reported a fatal car crash that occurred on Sunday, January 3, at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in El Cajon. The online story by Michelle Wayland gave an account of a Carl’s Jr. customer — sitting in a booth with his back to a plate glass window — who was killed by a speeding car that smashed into the burger joint. According to the police, the victim was “hurled from one end of the restaurant to the other.” Despite quoting a witness who stated, “He didn’t hit the brakes. He didn’t swerve,” the reporter failed to mention anything that might have lent insight as to why the driver (assuming the crash wasn’t intentional) was grossly incompetent. Could this have been an “age-related” accident?