Headlines matter

Sound Transit says errors inflated cost of light-rail plan

There are several ways to read this ambiguous headline from today’s Seattle Times, but I’m guessing that for the region’s transit skeptics the message is loud and clear: us taxpayers are gonna have to pick up the cost of yet another Sound Transit screw up.

But if you glanced at today’s Seattle P-I, you might come away with an entirely differently impression.

Light rail estimate lowered

Huh?

To be fair, both papers accurately report the story, as demonstrated by the Times’ succinct lede: “The long-term cost of extending light-rail beyond Seattle is about $7 billion less than Sound Transit previously said, according to revised figures the agency issued Friday.” But not every reader reads beyond the headline on every story.

I’m not implying any conscious bias or intent to mislead; the Times headline was most likely just a poor choice of words. But as I’ve previously argued (with little sympathy from my colleagues in the legacy media,) headlines and ledes do matter, and they shape the way readers interpret otherwise factual reporting. Most reporters and editors claim to be objective — and no doubt, most attempt to live up to that goal — but what they choose to report, what words they choose to use, which facts they emphasize and where these stories are placed in the paper are all subjective decisions.

I have no formal journalistic training apart from a single high school class and a couple years on the school paper, but I do remember being taught to put the most important information near the top (a rule I routinely violate, usually for literary reasons.) And, um… you can’t get much nearer the top than the headline.

Comments

  1. 1

    spews:

    They should rename their paper “The Seattle Reicht Wing Times”. I read the headlines of both papers daily, and the crimes, and investigations of the Bush Regime are almost always highlighted more in the PI than in the times. Almost always, but not always.

    When the Reicht Wing Times endorsed Reichert over Darcy, I became an enemy of their bird cage liner. They supported the re-eleciton of one of the most useless Representatives in history to represent our area in congress. How pathetic. If Darcy was elected, she would have brought far more representation to our area for a dozen different reasons. She is actually smart enough to get something done besides rubberstamping the Cheney agenda.

    Reichert is so stupid he even confessed they count votes on the Republican side. He said he votes against the leadership when they let him. What a total idiot. No wonder they didn’t trust him to do anything. When she slaughters him in ’08, he can be a meter maid.

  2. 2

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    This exchange between me and Proud Leftist is so good, I am going to post it in every thread on HA from now on. It destroys the Publicans’ stupid talking points – period.

    “I’m working really hard to understand how President Bill Clinton’s actions act as justifcation for the righties. Read this fuckwads.

    If your lame ass argument is that Bill Clinton was a bad President – which is what you say – and if your argument now is that the AWOL coward GW Bush is in someway comparable to Bill Clinton, what you are actually saying is that GW Bush is NO BETTER THAN CLINTON.

    Does it hurt to be that stupid? I really want to know.

    proud leftist says:
    RES @ 18
    You’ve hit it on the nose. The rightwing fringefucks consider Clinton to be the personification of evil–indeed, he is the devil incarnate in their twisted little minds. Nonetheless, their justification for all of the Bushites’ sins is, always, “well, Clinton did it, too.” Methinks they never studied logic.”

    And what’s better, is that the rightie traitor keeps pointing out that this is true. Thanks MTR. Please keep proving my point for me.

  3. 3

    Tree Frog Farmer spews:

    To a certain segment of the population, the Headlines are all that matters. In the sixties, in my college dormitory, we had a special bulleting board dedicated to nothing but headlines. Memorable ones included: “Marines Beat Off Viet Cong”, and “Nixon Reaches New High”.

  4. 4

    Right Stuff spews:

    7 Billion?

    What I take from that is that Sound Transit is unable to come up with any figures that I trust….

    Overstating cost by that much is a gross accounting error. It is “enron-ian” in nature.
    How are we to trust their figures in the future?

  5. 5

    RonK, Seattle spews:

    Haven’t you had ENOUGH? Sure you have!

    Come out for one hour of visible citizen activism, Sunday from 12-1pm. Wear T-shirts or carry signs that say “ENOUGH“, and engage passers-by. That’s all. That, and building out numbers week by week.

    In Seattle, “ENOUGH” is at the Federal Courthouse between 7th and 8th, Virginia and Stewart. Last week, this week, and every week, across the nation, as originally instigated by Air America Young Turks hosts/subs Cenk Uygur and Wes Clark Jr.

    Note: Federal Way turnout was 10 last week. Seattle? 3. What is it, a transportation problem?

  6. 6

    Mark The Redneck Goldstein spews:

    You fucking moonbat libruls got blood on yer hands with the murder of the little girl in Tacoma.

    How the fuck can somebody be an illegal alien, an unregistered L1 sex offender, a murderer and maybe serial murderer, and fucking registered voter?

    Well, I guess it’s good that he wasn’t “disenfranchised”. And I guess it’s good that the cops didn’t harass him about his immigration status.

  7. 7

    Mark The Redneck Goldstein spews:

    Hey Goldy – Now that school is out, how does your daughter get lunch? I mean… with school out and no taxpayer funded “free lunch” program, is she getting adequate nutrition?

    Just ask and I’d be glad to send ya hunnerd bucks cash to feed her for a while. Your “friends” here could do the same to tide her over until school starts.

  8. 8

    klake spews:

    Do you trust the local and state governments with your large investments into this state highways?
    Do you believe that low bid and state engineers are the best way to design a highway project?
    Why do we see little results in our highway investments?
    Why can other states add twenty miles of new roadway and this state can’t complete one mile in one summer break?
    Why has the Alaska Way Viaduct not been remove after it has settled more than five inches since the earth quake?
    Why does this state controlled for thirty years by Democrats can’t fix the poor highway system?
    Do you believe that the state and local governments are trying to social engineer you out of your automobile?

    I-405 Totem Lake Freeway Station – Ramp Structural
    Problem Questions and Answers
    What was the problem?
    There was unusual cracking in the concrete on the new HOV ramps. These cracks were parallel to cantilevered bus stops which jutted out on both sides of the ramps just to the north of the new NE 128th Street bridge. The cantilevered sections had also settled. WSDOT bridge specialists have determined that these cracks resulted from a lack of sufficient steel reinforcement in the concrete supporting the cantilevered sections.
    How large were the cracks?
    The maximum width of the crack locations was one-tenth of an inch.
    How much did the cantilevered sections settle? Are they continuing to settle?
    The amount of the most significant settlement was 2.5 inches. Crews put back temporary construction supports and placed counterweights to prevent further settlement. The cantilevered sections have now been removed and will be rebuilt.
    Who is responsible for this problem? Who’s going to pay for it?
    WSDOT is prepared to include a request for additional funding as a part of its Supplemental Budget request to the Governor for consideration by the Washington State Legislature in the 2008 legislative session. This budget proposal to the Governor and the Legislature is intended as settlement of WSDOT’s cost responsibilities for the Totem Lake project. WSDOT remains committed to a successful partnership with Sound Transit in the design and construction of facilities in which the two agencies are in partnership.
    Does the contractor bear any responsibility for this problem?
    No. WSDOT engineers confirmed that contractor Max J. Kuney Construction of Spokane, Washington built the structures correctly and in accordance with the design.
    Why didn’t you release information about this problem earlier?
    WSDOT and our contractor noticed the cracks in December 2006 after we removed the temporary construction supports from the cantilevered sections. It took time to survey and inspect the structure and determine the cause and severity of the problem. We then proceeded to develop several designs to correct the problem. We chose the design in late January and presented this issue to the public in early February.
    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projec...../ramps.htm

  9. 9

    Queen of Washington spews:

    Now that we run this State I will do what I please. Mark get a life and Goldy I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. 10

    klake spews:

    OH I FORGOT:
    Roger is the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for the Socialist Democrats Party today just like Paul Joseph Goebbels was in Hitler Germany. His Nazi friends taught him the trade when he visited them in jail.

  11. 11

    busdrivermike spews:

    Mark the Redneck Welcher may not know that his bed buddy George W Bush is is charge of the INS, and would have given that murdering scumbag citizenship for a monetary penalty under his immigration reform plan.

    Or, is that too many big words for you, welsher?

  12. 12

    busdrivermike spews:

    Annnnd…You the FUCK is crazy enough to trust an agency like Sound Transit that CANNOT EVEN COUNT!!!!!!!

  13. 13

    Mark The Redneck Goldstein spews:

    BDM 10 – I agree. That’s why GWB’s approval is lower than The Worst President of Twentieth Century and why McCain will announce soon that he has “decided to spend more time with his family”.

  14. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hey all you polllution-spewing, Gore-bashing, reality-denying wingnuts!! How do ya like this fucking ICE AGE we’re having?!!! Another miserable failure of conservatism.

  15. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Roger Rabbit is baaaaack! If you don’t like it, kiss my cute cottontail!! For a good time, call 1-900-LICK-ROG. All proceeds go to the Help Roger Rabbit Live Like A Republican Fund.

  16. 21

    Mark The Redneck Goldstein spews:

    Hey Rabbit – How wuz yer “vacation”? Tell me, HTF do you take “vacation” when you’re “retired” and living off The Producers?

    Did you wash your hands of the blood? How’d that look in the sink? Woulda freek me out. But not a sociopath like you…

  17. 22

    DarcyBurnerRottenMother spews:

    RightEqualsStupid says:
    TOO bad MTR’s kid wasn’t the one killed by Steffy’s pal in Tacoma.

    Too bad the FUCKING COWARD (RIGHT is always greater than fucking morons) does not have the balls to use the DARCY BURNER BRAT for an example, or the kid fuckelstein regularly exploits… would we hear weak mews of disgust from you assholes then?

  18. 23

    busdrivermike spews:

    So GWB would have allowed a murdering child rapist become a citizen, but Clinton is still worse because he got a blowjob from an intern?

    George W Bush, the guy you voted for, asshole, is a complete and utter disaster. The best part being he gets to take the whole corrupt, child raping Republican party with him.

  19. 24

    Mark The Redneck Goldstein spews:

    Here’s the facts… democrats… mainstream democrats are on the side of child molesters, rapists, felons and the rest of the scum.

    RES is proof…

    C’mon RES.. are ya goin to DL?

  20. 25

    K spews:

    MTR- so when the Republicans had control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, what did they do to address the problem of illegals? How much “Blood is on their hands?”

    You asshole.

  21. 26

    K spews:

    The Republicans control the Federal Justice Dept, the WA State Attorney General’s Office and the King Co. PAO. And of course Sheriff Dave had the King Co COps. As far as I know, child molesting, rape and felonies are all against the law. WHat are our law enforcement officials doing about it?

    Or is there no point to them having those offices?

  22. 27

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    MTR won’t attend DL because he knows he’d end up being bent over and treated like the cowardly bitch he is.

  23. 28

    Mark The Redneck Goldstein spews:

    On another topic…

    You gullible moonbats and your religion of GW…

    Can any of you explain IN YOUR OWN WORDS… the difference between a “kilowatt” and a “kilowatt-hour”.

    Don’t just copy and paste shit that you googled… just splain in yer own words.

    The answer is just a few sentences. If ya can’t do that, then don’t fucking bother.

    Oh yeah… if yer that fucking stoopid, don’t vote… and don’t talk about GW either

  24. 30

    ManChild spews:

    “What I take from that is that Sound Transit is unable to come up with any figures that I trust….”

    As opposed to the Bush Administration, which convinced Right Stuff they could re-build Iraq using Iraqi oil revenues.

    Ironic it is that the $10 billion Sound Transit plans to spend in 20 years IN OUR OWN BACK YARD is the same amount Right Stuff’s neocon friends flush down the Iraq toilet EVERY MONTH.

  25. 31

    klake spews:

    Do you trust the local and state governments with your large investments into this state highways?
    Do you believe that low bid and state engineers are the best way to design a highway project?
    Why do we see little results in our highway investments?
    Why can other states add twenty miles of new roadway and this state can’t complete one mile in one summer break?
    Why has the Alaska Way Viaduct not been remove after it has settled more than five inches since the earth quake?
    Why does this state controlled for thirty years by Democrats can’t fix the poor highway system?
    Do you believe that the state and local governments are trying to social engineer you out of your automobile?

    I-405 Totem Lake Freeway Station – Ramp Structural
    Problem Questions and Answers
    What was the problem?
    There was unusual cracking in the concrete on the new HOV ramps. These cracks were parallel to cantilevered bus stops which jutted out on both sides of the ramps just to the north of the new NE 128th Street bridge. The cantilevered sections had also settled. WSDOT bridge specialists have determined that these cracks resulted from a lack of sufficient steel reinforcement in the concrete supporting the cantilevered sections.
    How large were the cracks?
    The maximum width of the crack locations was one-tenth of an inch.

  26. 32

    klake spews:

    How much did the cantilevered sections settle? Are they continuing to settle?
    The amount of the most significant settlement was 2.5 inches. Crews put back temporary construction supports and placed counterweights to prevent further settlement. The cantilevered sections have now been removed and will be rebuilt.
    Who is responsible for this problem? Who’s going to pay for it?
    WSDOT is prepared to include a request for additional funding as a part of its Supplemental Budget request to the Governor for consideration by the Washington State Legislature in the 2008 legislative session. This budget proposal to the Governor and the Legislature is intended as settlement of WSDOT’s cost responsibilities for the Totem Lake project. WSDOT remains committed to a successful partnership with Sound Transit in the design and construction of facilities in which the two agencies are in partnership.
    Does the contractor bear any responsibility for this problem?
    No. WSDOT engineers confirmed that contractor Max J. Kuney Construction of Spokane, Washington built the structures correctly and in accordance with the design.

  27. 33

    klake spews:

    Why didn’t you release information about this problem earlier?
    WSDOT and our contractor noticed the cracks in December 2006 after we removed the temporary construction supports from the cantilevered sections. It took time to survey and inspect the structure and determine the cause and severity of the problem. We then proceeded to develop several designs to correct the problem. We chose the design in late January and presented this issue to the public in early February.
    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projec...../ramps.htm

    OH I FORGOT:
    Roger is the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda for the Socialist Democrats Party today just like Paul Joseph Goebbels was in Hitler Germany. His Nazi friends taught him the trade when he visited them in jail.

  28. 34

    klake spews:

    Why didn’t you release information about this problem earlier?
    WSDOT and our contractor noticed the cracks in December 2006 after we removed the temporary construction supports from the cantilevered sections. It took time to survey and inspect the structure and determine the cause and severity of the problem. We then proceeded to develop several designs to correct the problem. We chose the design in late January and presented this issue to the public in early February.

  29. 35

    K spews:

    Given klake’s historic problems with grammar and punctuation, it is not credible that 31 and 32 are from him.

    Posting under another’s name undercuts your own credibility.

  30. 36

    K spews:

    On the construction problem WSDOT acknowledged it was an error of their own engineer. Faulty design done in house.

  31. 37

    Broadway Joe spews:

    Sorry Mark, but a coward is someone who refuses to accept responsibility for their actions, kinda like a certain coke-head draft-dodger that some cheapskate idiot was dumb enough to vote into office.

    Now explain that in a couple of sentences, and no cut-and-paste, of course.

  32. 38

    K spews:

    I have considerable experience with low bid. Several hundred million dollars of public funds have been awarded under my authority. I do not believe it yields the best results in all cases. It is, however, state law. You simply do not trust me with those funds, concerned I might cut some deals to award to other than the lowers responsible and responsive bid.

  33. 39

    klake spews:

    K says:

    On the construction problem WSDOT acknowledged it was an error of their own engineer. Faulty design done in house.

    07/14/2007 at 7:03 pm
    How nice Katie if was someone’s else mistake you would burn them to the cross. Now if a state run by Democrats makes a million dollar error not a problem. Kind of like your friends down in New Oreleans use Democrats never make mistakes just GWB for sending us that storm.

  34. 40

    K spews:

    And MTR, cut the shit throwing terms out there and challenging for definitions. We all have our own little stash of terms we can belittle others for not having the precise definitions.

    You act like some bright yet self-centered teenagers I know. Our to prove to the world just how smart they are.

    We are not impressed.

  35. 41

    K spews:

    klake or whoever- you don’t know shit about what I’d do. I have forced consultants to reimburse my agency for faulty work. I also understand the design process and the process through which information gets into the press. And I know what you read in the paper is not nearly the complete story.

  36. 42

    K spews:

    So I’ve got some better things to do, but I’ll leave you with this quote.

    Who said “To accept the President’s position without question was to ‘allow the President to invade a neighboring nation …whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary.'”

  37. 43

    klake spews:

    K says:
    I have considerable experience with low bid. Several hundred million dollars of public funds have been awarded under my authority. I do not believe it yields the best results in all cases. It is, however, state law. You simply do not trust me with those funds, concerned I might cut some deals to award to other than the lowers responsible and responsive bid.
    Katie even with State law and all you still don’t have to award the job to the lowest bidder. You can disqualify the lower bidder and award the project to the next bidder up on the list. I have done that when I was a government worker and the contractor wasn’t qualified to submit a bid. Yes I have seen folk’s award bids when the contractor wasn’t meeting all the necessary requirements. To bad they lost their job over it. You know how hard it is to fire a government work? Yep it takes an act of GOD for that to happen, even with tons of paper work.

  38. 44

    K spews:

    Here you go boys, It was Abraham Lincoln criticizing James Polk’s ( a Democrat, by the way) adventure into Mexico.

    citation: Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin citing a letter from Lincoln, Feb 15, 1848.

    Have fun with that.

  39. 45

    klake spews:

    K says:

    So I’ve got some better things to do, but I’ll leave you with this quote.

    Who said “To accept the President’s position without question was to ‘allow the President to invade a neighboring nation …whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary.’”

    Katie you are wrong about that your friends in Congress gave him permission to invade Iraq and any other nation if they supported terrorism. Except your friend Bagdad McDermott he would sell his soul to the devil to stay in office. Maybe some of his friends would also to stay in office and spend our money for their programs.

  40. 47

    chadt spews:

    The further down the pipe their party goes, the shriller they become. Pure desperation.

    Kind of pleasant to see. Amusing, at least, on an otherwise dull night.

  41. 48

    RightEqualsStupid spews:

    Sorry got to log off – I am through with Puffybutt’s wife – now I am going to fuck MTR’s Muslim wife in the ass.

  42. 49

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @21

    “Hey Rabbit – How wuz yer ‘vacation’? Tell me, HTF do you take ‘vacation’ when you’re ‘retired’ and living off The Producers?”

    Let’s assume, arguendo, that I’m “living off the producers” — why would that concern YOU?

  43. 50

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @21 (continued) @21

    “Hey Rabbit – How wuz yer ‘vacation’?”

    Well, if you really want to know, I’ll tell you: It’s 110 degrees in the shade over in eastern Washington. But fortunately for the freedom-loving Republican farmers of Dino Rossi country, their lettuce and vegetables didn’t wither and die, thanks to the free water they get from the socialist Bureau of Reclamation and the cheap electricity they get from the socialist Bonneville Power Administration!

    For some reason, the people who complain the loudest about government socialism are the same people who get the most government socialism! You humans sure are strange.

  44. 51

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @24 “Here’s the facts… democrats… mainstream democrats are on the side of child molesters, rapists, felons and the rest of the scum.”

    Another Dingbat! theory brought to you by the bet-welshing liar who claims all of the world’s climate scientists are wrong. When you look at the details, it turns out that child molesters, rapists, and felons almost always turn out to be REPUBLICANS! I can hardly wait to see who else turns up on Madam Palfrey’s whorehouse phone list.

  45. 52

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Frankly, I think Redneck harbors a secret desire to go to a cool place after he dies, which he knows is impossible.

  46. 53

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @48 MTR doesn’t have a wife, Muslim or otherwise. He bought that lump inside the burkha at a flea market in Peshawar for 10 rupees.

  47. 54

    Armchair Electrician spews:

    Let me tell you five things about kilowatts and kilowatt hours, right off the top of my head.

    1. The watt is the standard unit of power (equal to 1 joule/sec). In this context we’re talking about electrical power, which is measure by multiplying the number of volts (electrical pressure) in a circuit by the number of amperes (electrical current), a well-known formula called Watts Law. Unlike Ohm’s Law, however, I don’t think it has anything to do with James Watt, the man for whom the watt is named.

    2. A kilowatt is, according to standard metric nomenclature, one thousand watts. In household terms, it would be the amount of power you’re using if you have appliances and gadgets hooked up to a wall socket drawing about 8.5 amps (give or take a few milliamps and depending on how many volts you’re getting out of the wall).

    3. A kilowatt hour is a unit of usage of kilowatts. Simply put, if you have ten 100 watt light bulbs and leave them all on for an hour, you just used 1 kilowatt hour.

    4. Your electric bill is determined by how many kilowatt hours you use.

    5. Mark the Welshing Redneck needs to pay his gambling debt before anyone here expends so much as a nanowatt caring about his opinions.