Reader Survey

As Erica points out over at Publicola, the Seattle Times has a habit of not exactly telling the entire story when it comes to light rail safety.

The Seattle Times’ version of the story: Sound Transit train “T-bones” car, injuring its driver, in “the third incident involving a test train in Rainier Valley” (a fact that’s mentioned twice in the brief story).

Not mentioned: The fact that the driver made an illegal left turn; the fact that he drove directly into the path of an oncoming train; and the fact that police gave him a ticket for running a red light. By omitting major facts about the collision, the Times makes it sound as if the train somehow jumped the tracks and attacked the car—a take that’s right in line with the Times’ongoing series of alarmist stories and op/eds about the supposed danger of light rail trains.

All of which raises an interesting question:


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Frank Blethen shoots dogs.”

    That’s my kind of guy! I disagree with Frank on almost everything else, but any sadistic who shoots dogs isn’t all bad! All dogs shold be shot! Dogs are useless. All they do is shit on green grass, eat dead rats, and chase rabbits. Don’t forget Huckabee’s kid hangs dogs! I almost voted for Huckabee in the primary.

  2. 2

    Gordon spews:

    Sometimes I think Roger really is a rabbit.

    But perhaps he doth protest too much. On the internet no one knows you are a dog.

  3. 5

    YellowPup spews:

    @3: Agreed. Hard to choose.

    @4: Erica’s account looks pretty accurate to me. How do you “t-bone” a car? What does that mean?

  4. 6

    ROTCODDAM spews:

    While I think there has been a clear bias against mass transit by the Times editorial board, at least in this case I don’t think there is much evidence to suggest that this bias has climbed over the editorial wall into the news room.

    First of all, it probably isn’t good journalism to declare that the motorists left turn was “illegal” until that has been determined by due process. In the second sentence the article quotes an ST spokesperson that the motorist “made a left turn, against a red light”. We can probably assume that most readers understand that such a maneuver would be illegal. The facts are there. The legal outcome, while still in doubt, remains in the realm of speculation.

    The term “T-boned” although it does not appear in quotes within the article, is attributed as a statement of a witness to the event. It might be preferred to enclose the offending term in quotes, but there are reasons why a journalist might not do so, having to do with gaps in note taking at the scene.

    Twice mentioning that “(t)his is the third incident involving a test train in Rainier Valley” is factually relevant to the story. A big part of the reason for the extended test period of operations in that area is to raise public awareness about the need for motorists and pedestrians to be observant. ST planners made it clear to the public before a single penny was spent that there would be accidents involving the trains. Just as there are accidents involving buses, trolleys, heavy trains, and other forms of transit. Life is messy. But planners also predicted that once routine operations were underway, and motorists and pedestrians had learned to observe and understand new signals and controls, that we could expect the rate of any such accidents to be lower than a corresponding level of rider movement served by alternative modes. The frequency and nature of these accidents during this test period is highly relevant and indicative of the level of public awareness of transit operations in the area.

    The description of the train and motorist movement included in the article is clearer and more accurate than Ms. Barnett’s preferred description that “he drove directly into the path of an oncoming train”. The police reports, the eyewitness accounts, and even the photos accompanying the Times article do not support her preferred description. The motorist turned in front of the train. But the train was not “oncoming”. It was overtaking. A semantic distinction that is confusing to many (apparently including Ms. Barnett). Thus it is appropriate for the reporter to rely on the more easily understood and accurate description of the movements included in the story.

    Finally, the fact that the motorist was cited by the investigating officers should have been included in the story. Ms. Barnett is correct to fault the reporting in this regard. Not only for the fact that the omission fails to clarify for the reader the criminal and civil issues related to the incident. But also because reporting that the motorist was cited better serves public safety by driving home the responsibility of motorists and pedestrians in the area to obey signals.

  5. 7

    Dan Thavage spews:

    Erica C. (the big C stands for Can’tEvenPretendToWriteAsWellAsKaushik) Barnett molests dogs. At least that’s the word on the street. The word on the rails is that Rabbit is lower than dogshit.


  6. 8

    Now you see it spews:

    Wow! A train hit a car and no one was killed! The madness! How many people died on I-5 and I-90 last year? I think it’s CLEAR we should make cars illegal. It’s perfect Republican logic.

  7. 10


    But is Goldy telling the whole story? One thing Goldy is leaving out is that KIRO TV, KING TV, KOMO TV, KONG TV, KCPQ TV, and KSTW TV all reported the Link train as having T-boned the car.

  8. 12

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 “How do you “t-bone” a car? What does that mean?”

    I suppose it’s possible for a car to get sideswiped by a train if the driver is trying to drag-race the train.

  9. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    One of my high school classmate’s dad tried to beat a train through a crossing and didn’t make it.

  10. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 Of course I’m lower than a steaming pile of dog shit. I’m only 30″ tall, ears erect. Lots of dogshit piles are taller than that. Dogs are full of a lot of shit.

  11. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @10 That’s because, given today’s journalism economics, they all got the story by reading the newspaper.

  12. 18

    Quell the Wabbit spews:

    Of course I’m lower than a steaming pile of dog shit. I’m only 30″ tall, ears erect.

    Yeah, but can you get ‘em up?