11-Year-Old Electrocuted from Garden Tap
On Saturday 3rd of March, an electrical hazard left an 11-year-old girl in critical condition, after attempting to turn off a garden hose in the front yard of her family’s Perth home. This blog will discuss and analyse the similarities and differences of how this news story was covered across multiple platforms. This includes the timelessness, angle, news values, comprehensiveness, fairness, balance, and the prominence of the news story across news platforms such as Twitter, online newspapers, and television coverage.
The incident occurred around 9pm on Saturday, March 3rd. ABC Perth posted to Twitter regarding the incident at 4:55pm Saturday 4th of March.
Linked to the tweet, ABC also covered the story with an online article published at 11:35am on Monday, March 5th.
Nine News Perth covered the story on air on Sunday 4th of March, during the 6pm news bulletin.
The West Australian published an online article on Monday the 5th of March at 6:21pm.
Twitter was the first platform to broadcast the news of 11-year-old, Denishar Woods getting electrocuted after attempting to turn off a garden tap. ABC Perth posted a tweet regarding the incident at 4:55pm on Sunday, March 4th, around 20 hours after the initial incident occurred. The same Sunday afternoon, during the 6pm news bulletin, the story gained television coverage from Channel Nine Perth, of which reporters were doing a live-cross interview at Princess Margaret Hospital, where Denishar was in critical condition. Following the original tweet, ABC Perth updated the post with an attachment to an online article published at 11:35am, the day after the original tweet was posted. The West Australian was last to cover the story, publishing an online article at 6:21pm Monday, March 5th.
On both Twitter and the online article, ABC used the incident as a public service announcement to news consumers, “Warning” readers “How water taps in your home can turn into an electrical hazard”. In addition, the ABC article includes a section titled ‘Watch for the warning signs’, informing readers of how the accident involving Denishar can be avoided in the future. Channel Nines television broadcast focuses on the tragedy and how Denisha’s family are coping after the incident. For example, using Princess Margaret Hospital and the scene of the incident as filming locations for the broadcast. The West Australian incorporated both, mostly focusing on why the electrical hazard occurred.
News values ‘The Big Six’
According to Lamble (2013) to be considered newsworthy stories must incorporate the following ‘Big Six’ news values:
- Human interest
Each platform covering the Perth story highlights the key values which make it newsworthy. These key values include; human interest, significance/impact, and proximity. For example, Human interest is a news value based on news consumers interest to sympathise with those who have suffered (Lamble, 2013, p50). As demonstrated in Channel Nines broadcast, where filmed interviews display an emotional engagement for viewers. Significance/impact was utilised based on the potential that this incident could be repeated, explaining why news platforms included how the electrical hazard can be avoided. Furthermore, proximity can be Geographical and emotional, Denisha is an 11-year-old from Perth. Correlating with human interest, Denishas young age makes news consumers more prone to sympathise and be interested in the story due to the proximity.
A good news story should be engaging, informative, and add value to the topic being covered. To achieve this, news stories aim to answer six questions, the ‘5 W’s and H’ of journalism (Porter, 2010):
- Who was involved?
- What happened?
- Where did it take place?
- When did it take place?
- Why did it happen?
- How did it happen?
Twitter displayed the most sufficient form of timelessness, however, due to the limitations it possesses as a news platform, it is difficult for all information to be included. For example, the tweet from ‘ABC Perth’ briefly discloses who was involved and what occurred, referring to Denisha as a “little girl”, rather than revealing her name, age, or where she is from. Overall leaving most details unexplored. However, after being updated, the tweet includes an attachment to a much more comprehensive online article. Most of the questions seen above are discussed, and an interview with Master Electricians Australia Chief Executive, Malcolm Richards is included as a form of investigation for ‘why’ and ‘how’ the incident occurred. Similarly, The West Australian’s online newspaper article answered most important questions and explored unanswered questions through an interview with the Energy Safety Director of Electricity Compliance’. The Nine News broadcast went in depth with a majority of the essential six questions, however, did not explore how the incident happened, instead showing video footage of people investigating at the scene.
Fairness and balance
One issue surrounding this news story involves the curiosity of who is to blame. Across all platforms who covered this news story, the emphasis was placed on the events and how they can be prevented in the future. Denishas mother, Lacey Harrison, informed the ABC she had contacted The Department of Housing during a power outage prior to Denisha being electrocuted. ABC and The West Australian included interviews with Housing Minister Peter Tinley, allowing for a different perspective to be accounted for, as well as the Minister being able to publicly send condolences to Denishar and her family.
The news story was most prominent in the local news. For example, it was ‘ABC Perth’ who published the tweet, rather than ABC’s main twitter account. Furthermore, the Nine news television broadcast seen on this blog was from Channel Nine Perth, and The Western Australian is a local Perth Newspaper. Overall, the news story was much more prominent on local news platforms and was not a National headline.
The news story involving a young Perth girl being electrocuted from a garden tap gained coverage across multiple news platforms. The news platforms shared similarities in news values, angles, comprehensiveness, fairness, balance, and proximity. Twitter differentiated as it produced the most sufficient form of timelessness, however, contained the lowest amount of comprehensive information. However, the social-media news platform did share similarities with The West Australian online newspaper article and the Channel Nine Perth television coverage based on the approach they took in portraying the story. To conclude, the development of social media has transformed journalism, expanding how news is consumed (Dunlop, 2016, p70). As demonstrated, each news platform has its strengths and weaknesses, however, multiple news platforms introduce consumers to variety and create an easier access to news and the chance for a story such as Denisha’s to be recognised.
Dunlop, T. (2016). Success, Trends and Influence of Social Media on Mainstream Media (p.70). Melbourne: Wheeler Centre.
Lamble, S. (2013). News as it happens: an introduction to journalism. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, pp.45-51.
Porter, J. (2010). Five Ws and One H: The Secret to Complete News Stories. Journalistics. Retrieved 17 March 2018, from http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/five-ws-one-h/