Local News Choppers Are Unnecessary, Reckless

It's time for people to stop dying in them, Matt Zoller Seitz argues
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2014 12:48 PM CDT
In this photo provided by KOMO-TV, emergency personnel respond to the scene of a news helicopter crash outside the KOMO-TV studios near the space needle in Seattle on Tuesday, March 18, 2014.    (AP Photo/KOMO-TV, Kelly Koopmans)

(Newser) – When a Seattle news helicopter crashed near the Space Needle yesterday, killing two people, it made headlines. But by local news standards it was a "mundane tragedy, part of the cost of doing business," writes Matt Zoller Seitz at New York. At least 18 people have been killed in 25 news-chopper accidents since 2000. Given how many choppers these stations fly every day, that's not that many, but it's still too high a price to pay for the "journalistically unnecessary eye candy" that most chopper footage amounts to.

"For every ratings-spiking, career-defining shot that only a news chopper could have captured, you get dozens or hundreds of airborne shots of the exteriors of buildings where something vaguely newsworthy happened hours ago," Seitz writes. For this, stations are paying up to $1 million a year and risking these accidents. If that money was spent on newsgathering instead, "just think of how much deeper and more useful a typical half-hour newscast could be." Click for his full column.

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