<XML><RECORDS><RECORD><REFERENCE_TYPE>3</REFERENCE_TYPE><REFNUM>7804</REFNUM><AUTHORS><AUTHOR>Johnson,C.W.</AUTHOR></AUTHORS><YEAR>2003</YEAR><TITLE>A Case Study in the Role of the Media in Reporting the Causes of Major Accidents</TITLE><PLACE_PUBLISHED>In G. Einarsson and B. Fletcher (eds), Proceedings of the 21st International Systems Safety Conference, 2003 </PLACE_PUBLISHED><PUBLISHER>N/A</PUBLISHER><PAGES>885-895</PAGES><ISBN>0-9721385-2-8</ISBN><LABEL>Johnson:2003:7804</LABEL><KEYWORDS><KEYWORD>Accident Analysis</KEYWORD></KEYWORDS<ABSTRACT> It has often been argued that the media are too eager to speculate on the causes of major accidents. Rather than defer judgment until the outcome of official investigations, intense public interest persuades editors and journalists to identify and often promote speculative theories about the events leading to major failures. There have been few studies that investigate this media response in any detail. This paper provides one of the first detailed investigations of the media response to the failure of a safety-critical system. The following sections trace the development of causal hypotheses in two national newspapers in the days following the loss of the Air France Concorde, flight AFR4590. The study focuses on the articles and editorials presented by a mass-market tabloid and a lower circulation ‘broadsheet’ newspaper. Our analysis yields a number of insights into the relationship between safety professionals and the media. For instance, the origin of many causal hypotheses can be traced back to misunderstandings that stem from the experts’ inability to convey detailed technical information in a manner that is readily understood by journalists. In other situations it is possible to argue that experts deliberately create ambiguity in their statements to the press. This ambiguity may help to cover their uncertainty about the causes of an accident. When reported by the press, however, it can act to mislead the public who rely on media reports of adverse events. </ABSTRACT></RECORD></RECORDS></XML>