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George Sanderson, Published October 16 2009

Media shouldn’t rush to condemn

As I read the Oct. 9 Forum, I was very disappointed by the headline The Forum used with the AP story about the air traffic controller who “bantered as disaster loomed.” A midair collision between a light plane and helicopter killed all on board both aircraft.

While the headline may get readers’ attention, and the first five columns of the story seem to blame the controller for the accident, the real story seems to me to be found in the sixth and final column.

It says that the National Transportation Safety Board reported that the controller in question had handed off responsibility for guiding the light plane to controllers at a Newark airport seven seconds before the helicopter appeared on his radar screen. The NTSB doesn’t seem so sure that the controller’s behavior contributed to the accident, so the news media shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment with inflammatory headlines.