Across the country this week newspapers, TV and radio will all undoubtedly share some somber stories and Public Service Announcements about teen driving. Oct. 14-20 is 'Teen Driver Safety Week.'
You can bet there will be plenty of local stories focusing on their own respective tragedies involving teen fatalities and, if given the opportunity, politicians will surely seize the moment. Some reporters may even drag in a local representative of M.A.D.D. to say all the obligatory things.
Some good may come of it yet. But it also makes me wonder if there isn't more we can do. Perhaps there is something the media can do to makes a meaningful contribution...
Consider this: When high school and college students, teens and 20-somethings seek information, it's no secret that they're texting and accessing their info online with Facebook and other social media targeting them.
Savvy marketers capitalize on that and one of the savviest is called MetroMix. There's a local version of Metromix that's exclusive to many cities and it appears to target a pretty young demographic:
Hudson Valley Metromix
On Metromix sites local bars advertise and publicize both upcoming and past events, promotions, giveaways, etc. And, they post hundreds of photographs of pub patrons at each establishment (that signs on with Metromix) having a marvelous time. Many appear to be of legal drinking age. Some clearly look like they stole their older brother's or sister's ID.
All of it glorifies the party atmosphere and, naturally, the drinking. But it makes me wonder why many news organizations are joined with Metromix at the hip.
Gannett, for instance, owns and operates The Journal News in Westchester and Rockland County (NY). The paper's website, lohud.com (for lower Hudson Valley), links directly to hudsonvalleymetromix.com and prominently features bar promotions and photo galleries. Inevitably, when more kids click on these sites, more ad revenue is generated.
Is something wrong with that? Should a news organization that editorializes and reports such things as teen driver crashes and fatalities also be encouraging and profiting from the dangerous behavior some of these teens made on the last night of their lives?