Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Elephant goes on rampage and demolishes 20 limousines!

Headlines huh, don't you love them?! What image did that conjure up for you? For me, I went off on one imagining our largest landliving neighbour had escaped captivity somewhere in Los Angeles and had trumpeted through the traffic jam that is the red carpet drop off for the Oscars. 

Of course it was nothing of the sort but it took me some effort to get the full story. So many of the news reports differed. 
Inspite of, or maybe because of, having newspaper sub-editor within my CV, I am ever hopeful that reporting will be responsible and unsensational. Well that isn't going to happen, so we get better at reading between the lines.
The story of the rampaging elephant can be better explained when you devote an hour of your life to really researching the various reports. Not something we can do with every headline screamed at us. 
Long story short:  male elephants are on heat just one week out of 52. This poor bull should have been making whoopee in the countryside with a gorgeous cow that week. Instead he was painted, decorated and paraded as part of a wedding ceremony in a town near New Delhi, India.
The reports vary to what caused him to run for it. Was it the ceremonial gun fire? The noise of the drums or the smell of an equally on-heat lady in a nearby field? The articles also differ regarding the ensuing drama. There was a lot of damage, no human casualties thankfully and he was eventually knocked out by a tranquilliser gun. So what would have been a responsible headline? Maybe "Elephant's keeper indirectly causes £200,000 of damage"? Doesn't have quite the attention grabbing tone to it does it? 
At least they didn't use the factually correct and even more universally attention grabbing :  "Horny male causes £200,000 damage and demolishes 20 limousines". 

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