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Don’t Believe Your Eyes…or The Brooklyn Paper

October 19, 2011

Ever since the Daily News first wrote its open letter to Janette Sadik-Khan, the story of bike-ped conflicts on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, if such conflicts ever existed in the first place, has largely faded from memory.

Nevertheless, the passage of time and a lack of any concrete evidence of violent confrontations hasn’t prevented The Brooklyn Paper from picking up the Daily News’ sloppy seconds with its story, “Foot(path) solider! City brings in traffic cops to calm tensions on the Brooklyn Bridge.”  The headline is [intentionally?] misleading, as the article itself says that the “watchdogs don’t hand out tickets or chase down offenders. All they do is upbraid people to stay in their respective lanes.”

The story tells the uniformed that “clashes between cyclists and skyscraper-gawking tourists are frequent” and that ten weeks after safety monitors were stationed on the bridges, “both sides still aren’t playing nice.”  Words like “disarray” and reports of stroller-pushing moms being “nearly knocked down” pepper the piece like a tabloid-themed Mad Libs.  There’s even an ominous quote from one of the pedestrian safety managers who says that “there haven’t been any accidents…yet.”  The next piece of information that comes is the end date for the “pilot program,” as if we should expect to see an explosion in bike-on-ped conflicts and injuries the minute these noble–and highly paid–traffic cops relinquish their posts.

So, what pictures does The Brookyn Paper use to illustrate the chaotic and “nearly” violent battleground?  Here’s one, with the actual caption:

And there's always plenty of mayhem on the narrow foot- and bike path.

It’s clear that The Brooklyn Paper and editor Gersh Kuntzman are interested in page views, not reporting, and the only way to get them is by stoking conflict.  How else to explain their treatment of the tragic death of a cyclist at the hands of a flatbed truck driver?  Today the paper published “Enough already! Another cyclist killed by driver,” just ten weeks after publishing an editorial with a similar-sounding title.

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One Comment
  1. October 20, 2011 9:12 am

    Nice catch. I’ve noticed that with editorially selected photos of “aggressive” and “nearly violent” cyclists, the common theme is not visibly bad behavior but rather the appearance of the cyclists. They seem to be doing nothing wrong aside from being there. And when it is time to depict cyclists as an unwanted pest, photos of immigrants delivering someone’s dinner get plopped onto the page. Newspapers are all kinds of bankrupt, but especially morally so.

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