Death by design

Here’s my pitch for a National Geographic story:

Night train

Imagine walking on railroad tracks through a dark mountain. You know trains come roaring down the tracks at random times. There is no way for you to get off the tracks if a train comes. Sometimes the tracks go over a rickety bridge, with a bottomless pit below, and you have no idea if the bridge will collapse when you walk out on it. But there’s nothing you can do. So you just keep walking, hoping you’ll be the lucky one, hoping the train doesn’t come until you’ve passed through the mountain and gotten off the tracks….

Oh, wait. That story (if you can call it that) has already been approved — and field work is now underway.

And look — up ahead, on the track, someone was just killed.

Which isn’t a surprise, of course. Offering up a (human) blood sacrifice is essential to the plot. As Bruce Barcott has noted: Unlike any other sport, mountaineering demands that its players die.”

What is surprising, and profoundly disappointing, is that our Society continues to fund, and thereby enable, these highly choreographed death marches; to justify the “story” in the lamest way; and then to monetize it all with an iPad app.

This is not journalism. This is reality television of the very worst kind.

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≡  Night train by corydalus via Flickr 

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