This is an example of how Journalism releases the spigot of societal change. Or at least, it was supposed to be. The automotive industry plays a pivotal role in this. More specifically, one of the world’s most renown enthusiast manufacturers—BMW.
A couple of weeks ago, ABC News released a piece on a funny pattern—random models of random model years randomly bursting into flames while parked. Audiences were initially introduced to a 2011 328i set ablaze 10 minutes after the ignition was cut. Over the course of this story we are given the details of that account and four others; a 2008 X5, parked for a similar timespan, a previous-gen X3, parked for five days, a brand new 2016 2-Series, parked for a few hours and 2011 5-Series GT, in which a Darth Vader costume was spared.
I thought, at first, that this was a monumental moment in Journalism, that this would become the next Toyota sticky pedal scandal, GM ignition switch fiasco or Takata airbag kerfuffle. I thought this was the exposeé of the century, like The Insider of the automotive industry. I then conducted further research. Boy, did I get myself riled up for nothing.
According to the same piece that got me shooketh, Over a span of 5 years, “Over 40" fires have occurred. By comparison, the GM’s faulty ignition switches resulted in 124 fatalities. Granted, these spanned over the course of ten years as opposed to five. However, if you do the math correctly, 124 is over three times that of 40, so the statistics are still disproportionate.
I also thought that, given the wide variety of models affected by the fires, that this was a widespread problem. Then after looking at the numbers, I then thought to myself “how commonplace are car fires, exactly?” Well, they are, in fact, very commonplace. There are an estimated 152,300 automotive fires per year that occur in the United States alone. That’s according to the National Fire Protection Association. I also did an image search on other car manufacturers and the frequency of their fires. I’d type in something along the lines of “volvo car fires,” or “honda car fires.” Like the B-Roll shown in the ABC story, I got a variety of models from different years, all engulfed in flames. That’s when I slammed my laptop shut as DJ Khaled told me in my mind...
There’s a professional term for the often-used “fake news,” it’s called Yellow Journalism. And ABC just committed that to a tee. Telling half-truths whilst alienating a certain corporation or organization as notorious as BMW to draw a larger audience. And I actually bought it. I was *this* close to never buying a BMW in my life. I guess the News Media does think that us car people are idiots like the Common Man is known to be. But in this day and age, even the most trendy of people often overlook the fact Google is a force to be reckoned with.