Rebecca Adelman, an assistant professor of media and communication studies, was recently interviewed for a story in Discovery about the narratives and sensational news headlines surrounding shark attacks. In the article, Adelman said that common language describing such attacks can often minimize the role of humans.
“It neatly erases any kind of human culpability for the shark bite while underscoring the notion that humans […] ought to be able to roam freely and safely anywhere on the planet, regardless of what other creatures might have preceded them there by millions of years,” she explained.
“Yet it also makes a kind of sense out of the event of a shark biting a hapless child, swimmer, surfer, or fisherman by attributing a kind of malevolent agency to the offending creature. It deflects the question of whether the human might have made a mistake by being in that part of the ocean at that time (or might have made a faulty calculation about the risk associated with their actions), but also provides a defense against the terrifying idea that bad things just happen,” she added. The full article can be accessed here.