The High School and The End

April 17, 2010

I wrote a piece that is appearing in today's Sacramento Bee about why KDND 107.9 The End's license to broadcast should be taken away.  See it here.

I have been reading comments on the SacBee site;  so far, they generally follow the post-trial public opinion that Jennifer Strange was dumb and responsible for her own death.  They miss the fact that Jennifer Strange, with no college education, was earning nearly $60,000 a year in the medical field.  She was no dummy.  And they miss the fact that the jury who actually heard the case unanimously and quickly decided that Mrs. Strange would not have died had it not been for that contest, and that of the twelve jurors, only two thought she had some (not full) responsibility for her death;  ten said she had no responsibility whatsoever.

Somehow, people today seem to think that a corporation which invites (lures?) people into a contest so they can increase their own profits are not to be held responsible when their own contest goes awry, to the point of killing someone.   These people cite personal responsibility; let's not forget, corporations are "persons" too;  where's their personal responsibility?

I am reminded of the Roald Dahl short story "Man from the South."   It's the story of a man who makes a bet with a second man to light a cigarette lighter ten times in a row.  If the second man succeeds, the first will give him his car.  If he fails, the first man will cut off one of the second man's fingers. 

So what if a radio station sponsored a contest like that?  Not too many people know you can die from drinking too much water, but any fool knows what having your finger cut off would mean.   So would it be okay for a radio station to put on a contest like that?  You know it would be a ratings bonanza, and ratings mean advertising dollars.  Why not just allow corporations to prey on stupid people and make a fortune doing it?  After all, they're not killing anybody.

Part of the answer is radio stations are licensed to serve the public interest.  Clearly, a contest like that does not serve the public.  Neither did The End's water drinking contest. 

1 comment:

  1. I posted the Sacramento Bee piece at

    I think the people participating in NewsTrust will be interested in this story and the issues of media reform.