Tribune comes out against CTA’s aisle-facing seating in a funny way


On the first page of the Chicago Tribune on August 27 was a story about aisle-facing seating on the new Chicago Transit Authority’s 5000-series cars and how many people were unhappy with the setup. It was a case of inventing a story.

Then in the Sunday paper, on the “Chicago Week” page where the newspaper recaps a variety of stories it published since the previous Sunday, it summarized the story with the following:

Hey, can you move over a bit?

Not everyone’s happy with the CTA’s new rail cars and their aisle-facing seats, but the cars are likely here to stay. The transit agency spent $1.14 billion on the cars and reconfiguring the seats would require a major and expensive redesign. Riders have complained about having to ride with fellow commuters squeezed in on both sides and other passengers standing directly in front of them.

The photo included with the summary, embedded at the top, shows a majority of people (who are sitting) preoccupied with books and phones. One person sitting is giving the foreground standee the stink eye. This is hardly the photo to use to communicate the dislike that passengers have for the setup. 

Continue reading Tribune comes out against CTA’s aisle-facing seating in a funny way

Importance of hit-and-run crash deaths in the news media


One of the question sets I posed in this morning’s crash analysis article was about the attention hit-and-run crashes receive in news media:

Why are certain people who die emphasized in news media reporting? Why are other people ignored? In other words, of the 315 people who died in traffic crashes in 2010, how many got a newspaper article written about them?

In the Sunday’s Chicago Tribune newspaper, I found a tiny article at the bottom of the pictured page (above) for the deadlier of the two crashes from Saturday: a toddler and a 6-year-old in Brighton Park. If there was an article about Jesse Bradley in the same paper, I didn’t find it.

Fatality Tracker: Woman dies after being hit by Rock Island Metra train


2012 fatality stats*:
Pedestrian: 3
Pedalcyclist: 0
Transit: 0

Updated March 16, 2012: I’ve recategorized this as a pedestrian death, and not a transit death. Also changed the deceased’s home location and corrected the Street View.

Gardenia Boyer, 23, from the Brainerd neighborhood, was struck and killed by an empty Metra train at 95th Street and Vincennes Avenue on the Rock Island branch going south towards Blue Island, Illinois. It happened on Wednesday morning, around 7 AM. She was walking east on 95th Street. There are two tracks here. Walking on 95th Street never seems like a good idea: the first fatality tracker post was about two people killed while crossing 95th Street. She had two daughters.  Continue reading Fatality Tracker: Woman dies after being hit by Rock Island Metra train

They’re not accidents, and we don’t have robotic cars

Updated October 5, 2011, to add a reference to a new article that fails to mention that the car involved in a crash had a driver. 


The headline for this crash might read: “Taxi wanted to avoid Lake Shore Drive congestion by taking the Lakefront Trail, makes wrong turn”. Photo by Andrew Ciscel. 

Language and word choice is powerful. It influences you to interpret a story in a specific way – or another. Monday’s headline on the Chicago Sun-Times website reads, “Police seek vehicle in fatal Uptown hit-and-run” and I thought, “Aren’t the police also interested in the driver of that vehicle?”*

And I read the first paragraph:

Police have released surveillance photos of a car that plowed into a woman crossing the street in Uptown early Saturday, then reportedly backed up and struck her again before fleeing the scene. The pedestrian died eight hours later.

“Oh, the police are looking for a car that drives itself. Of course!” I exclaimed to myself. “I guess one of Google’s experimental cars has come to Chicago”. But I was wrong as in the fifth paragraph, the unnamed author of this article described the crash: Continue reading They’re not accidents, and we don’t have robotic cars