A tragic incident in which a 76 year old cyclist died trying to avoid a swooping magpie in Woonona in the Wollongong region attracted world-wide media attention. In Australia, the story was reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC News, the Daily Telegraph, SBS News, Yahoo News, 9 News, 7News Sydney and Today. Internationally, the story was reported by The Guardian (UK), the Washington Post (USA), the Independent (UK), the Daily Mail (UK), USA Today, Fox News (USA), and CNN. Many of the headlines were somewhat sensationalised, claiming that the man was ‘attacked’ by the swooping magpie.
The various comment threads accompanying these reports were varied and conflicted. On the whole, most responses were sympathetic, but some responses to Today and 9 News blamed the victim, and questioned his own practices (including questioning whether he was wearing a helmet, which he was). Some users took the opportunity to express their dislike of magpies, while others were insistent that magpies were not to blame. Comments on the Guardian Facebook page focused on the range of dangerous animals in Australia.
In another incident related to the so-called ‘war between cyclists and drivers’ a motorist was captured on video abusing a group of cyclists stopped at traffic lights. While the video does not suggest any wrongdoing on the part of the cyclists, many of the comments on the News.com.au story as well as on the Facebook page, are highly critical of cyclists.