Simulating A Free Press

March 13, 1991|By Peter Hermann

If a helicopter crashes at the U.S. Naval Academy and no one is around, does it make a sound?

We may never know.

A helicopter is scheduled to crash today. Except if the weather'sbad, and then all bets are off.

The academy is running a drill toprepare firefighters for a disaster. That much we know for sure.

But the details are sketchy: what kind of helicopter, how many casualties and just where it is supposed to go down. Only the masters of this disaster know for sure.

The exact time also is mystery, but that's more to keep the fire crews guessing.

Everything about this disaster is a simulation, including the reporters.

Last year, the academy rolled out the red carpet for us. This year, we're getting the unwelcome mat because we apparently "will get in the way.

"Media will interfere with the training purpose," said Carol Feldman, a spokeswoman for the academy.

Feldman said the chopper crash also will be a training mission for the public relations people so that they know how to handle the onslaught of reporters.

Feldman says the PR people can't be tied up with real reporters while they themselves are training.

So what we have here are firefighters responding to a call for a fake helicopter crash, treating people who aren't really injured while PR officials are answering questions from faux reporters (Iwonder who's playing me?).

Maybe we should do our part and supplysimulated readers.

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