Viral Anti-Bike Content — The Daily News Is Doing It Wrong

The Wall Street Journal schooled the world on how to generate pageviews with this instant classic of anti-bike insanity starring editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz. Approximately 3.4 million websites embedded this video before Streetsblog got around to it, and “Dorothy Rabinowitz” is still rocketing up the Twitter trend chart. Meanwhile, the Daily News posted an addled anti-bike conspiracy theory last night by someone named Jack Brown, and hardly anyone noticed.

There are clearly some lessons here for the tabloids as they seek maximum clickage. First, if you really want to set the internet ablaze, put the anti-bike nutjob on camera. Dorothy Rabinowitz would remain in obscurity today if the Journal had simply printed a crazy screed against bike-share under her byline. Instead she’s a global celebrity thanks to the paper’s multi-media operation. Maybe Jack Brown has the same star potential. We may never know, because the Daily News didn’t put him on camera.

Second, it helps if your crazy anti-bike person has some institutional stature. Dorothy Rabinowitz is on the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Part of the reason her crazy views about bicycling are so captivating is that she’s a bona fide member of the city’s media elite. Jack Brown is just a guy with an acronym (“Coalition Against Rogue Riding” — get it?). To maximize pageviews, the Daily News should put its editorial board members on camera. Really own the anti-bike delusions. Let’s see Arthur Browne rant about the smugness of street safety advocates. People will click on that.

So, that’s the easy advice. Alternatively, the tabloids could get a huge amount of attention while rendering an important public service (and without becoming a global laughingstock). They could take a long, hard look at the crashes that injure and kill New Yorkers every day, and why police are so quick to exonerate reckless drivers based on nothing more than the testimony of the person behind the wheel and his passengers.

Killing with a car is legal in NYC as long as you’re sober and stay at the scene. There is a huge story here just waiting for the tabloids to tell it.