Herald Pretends To Be Newspaper, Fails Miserably

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 23

We all know newspapers have fallen on hard times, with many of them moving over to the “tabloid” format. The tabloid format is characterized by large flashy front page images, misleading and hyperbolic headlines (much like the one above), and in general a lack of any real reporting. Tabloids are all about one thing, selling copies. They will print almost anything that gets people to shell out for some tripe covered, dead tree media.

It has been a while since I have commented on a media piece, mostly because the newspaper outlets around here have either realized that bicycles are here to stay and have started reporting responsibly, or (more likely) they are beyond help and nothing I say will make a difference.

The media criticism pieces I have written before have been about honest to goodness newspapers, you know the ones where journalism still holds on by a thread and there are people who still believe in the value of good news reporting. We are not talking about newspapers here, we are talking about the Herald. I thought long and hard about if it would even be worth my time to address the recent string of absolute shlock that has been “reported” by the Herald, and reluctantly I am going to hold my nose and dive in.

I think the only reason I feel like I need to respond is that one of the people writing this crap actually called me and had a 45 minute conversation about bikes, and then wrote a story that obviously took even less time to write. For a much better response to these recent poorly written pieces see here.

The Herald has been on a crap printing roll lately, and by lately I mean years and years. Its no surprise that they suck. I think the people who work there know they are scraping the bottom of the barrel. I think deep down even the people who like reading the Herald treat it like a guilty pleasure. Like smoking, they know its killing them slowly, but they just can’t stop. No one is confused about what the Herald is, and yet here I am giving them the attention they are willing to whore themselves out to the lowest common denominator for. I feel dirty already.

Instead of write thousands of words on why the Herald is a shit pile (everyone knows that), or why the authors of recent articles are poor reporters (I mean they work at the Herald…), I will instead list the article name, link to it (warning following links, and especially reading comment section of links may cause your head to explode), and then in as few sentences as possible explain why that article is deeply flawed.

1. Cyclists, drivers are wheeling and dealing (War’s one for the road)

Summary: There is a “war” happening on the streets of Boston, and the city has taken sides with the Cyclists. The Heralds “evidence”, over the past year cars have been issued over 900 parking tickets for parking in bike lanes, and only 100 cyclists were issued warnings for poor cycling, also the city gave out 200 free helmets.

Why the Herald is wrong:Clearly these people are not math wizards. But considering less than 2% of people in Boston actually bicycle, one might make an argument that giving out 100 warnings to cyclists might actually be targeted over-enforcement aimed at cyclists. The other problem is, the cops would gladly give out more tickets to cyclists, if they could.

Due to poor legal wording its currently hard to give tickets to cyclists, this is not a problem of the city “taking sides” this is a problem with the law. Cars are not allowed to park in bike lanes, they get tickets when they do so…I also don’t see this as taking sides.

Long story short, both cyclists and motorists should welcome increased enforcement of the rules (for everyone), the more the rules are followed the nicer everyone’s road use experience will be. The Herald goes out of its way to take a simple increase in enforcement (for everyone) and instead turns it into some big conspiracy in order to piss people off.

2. Putting a spoke in their wheels

Summary: Old People hate cyclists, also “get off my lawn!” Seriously this is basically the entire point of the article.

Why the Herald is wrong: Where to start. For one this “article” is a couple quotes from people who hate cyclists, that’s it. One is even a Korean war veteran, because cyclists hate veterans! These are the same people who complain that cyclists should get on the sidewalk when they are driving, and that cyclists should get in the road when they are walking. The article leaves out the fact that pedestrians, and car drivers are equally poor road users. As such it should be taken for what it is, anti-cylists ranting. Maybe if the old people interviewed in the article are so insistent about getting bicycles off the sidewalks, they shouldn’t keep fighting to keep bike lanes out of their neighborhoods.

3. Cyclists plan provocations in Hub’s car-bike war

Summary: CRITICAL MASS!!!! OMG!!! WAR!!! FALSE OUTRAGE!!! I guess this is supposed to fit into the authors “war” theme that he is trying desperately to manufacture from whole cloth, but really its the same exact article written about critical mass since about 1995.

Why the Herald is wrong: I actually talked to the guy who wrote this article, we had a 45 minute conversation…which is why its so sad to see what he ended up writing. We talked at length about how the same critical mass story has been written (seemingly every summer) a million times. And how no journalist has really bothered to do anything interesting with it in years. Luckily this guy is not a journalist so the failure to do so again wasn’t much of a sting. He couldn’t even get the name of my website correct. Critical Mass represents such a tiny party of an already tiny group (cyclists) that its almost silly to talk about it as if its hugely representative of the greater cyclist community.

Honestly I feel bad just having given that tabloid three links from this website. The reporting is hyperbolic, misleading, one sided, and most damning of all boring. I used to have a great time picking apart Globe articles point by point and engaging in intelligent mental banter with real journalists. That mental battle ended up in much better reporting from some people at the Globe. But the Herald is just…icky. Its like you don’t even want to bother, and frankly I probably wont in the future. The next time the Herald calls me I will be very reluctant to say anything at all to them.

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Posted in bostonbiker | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Herald Pretends To Be Newspaper, Fails Miserably”

  1. By john on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    Not only is the Herald math deficient when comparing the tickets, as you point out, they are comparing parking tickets to moving violations. 100 cyclists were issued warnings about poor cycling, but it seems like almost all the car tickets were for parking. There should be 1,000s of poor driving violations (which anyone who spent any time in Boston knows would be easy to find) for them to be equal (no turn signal, not coming to a complete stop at stop signs, not stopping to make a right on red, general dangerous driving, etc.) I am sorry you had to waste 45 minutes of your life talking to a Herald ‘reporter’.

  2. By Rebecca on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    Not to mention that In Boston cars speed up for a yellow light and will continue through the red light if they felt they should have gotten through the intersection before the light changed. Also Boston drivers regularly exceed the speed limit. It might help if more speed limit signs were posted. They are few & far between.

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