Tuesday’s Headlines: God Save the NY Times Edition

The Times is broken.
The Times is broken.

When it comes to coverage of transportation issues in the city that bears its name, the New York Times is just an infuriating mess.

Case in point: Yesterday’s exclusive handout story about the city’s announcement of a minuscule, $4-million billboard campaign to beg drivers to stop killing their fellow New Yorkers. We’re not saying the campaign isn’t news — it is. But it’s only news if you’ve been covering other incremental developments in the eight-plus-years effort to expose the recklessness, danger and chaos of the majority of public space that is monopolized by drivers.

Put aside that the Times has reflexively covered Vision Zero and transit from the drivers’ perspective, the fact that Winnie Hu devoted her considerable talents to writing up a DOT press release about a tiny expenditure — then didn’t even bother to cover it critically, as we did — makes no sense from a paper that has ignored such big 2022 stories as:

  • Mayor Adams’s promise to redesign 1,000 intersections this year.
  • Adams’s promise to shrink the vehicle fleet.
  • The DOT’s promise and then backtrack on hardening bike lanes.
  • The city’s bold plan for making the 34th Avenue open street a “Paseo Park.
  • Mayor Adams’s call for Albany to renew the speed camera system.
  • The fact that the speed camera system is equitable, but the roads it surveils are not.
  • The poor response, lies and intimidation of the NYPD on 311 service requests about road safety issues.

Hu’s story on the $4-million campaign reminded us of her earlier myopia on the mayor’s 1,000 intersection announcement, when she decided to focus on 100 intersections that would be getting raised crosswalks — even though the DOT had rolled that out years earlier.

In fairness, the Times hasn’t ignored everything — the paper did follow our coverage of the rise in crashes this year, And other outlets (looking at you, Daily News, Gothamist and Brooklyn Paper) didn’t cover the billboard announcement with any skepticism at all. But when we read the Times Metro section, we consistently find ourselves wondering what city its editors live in — and where they think their readers reside as well.

In other news:

  • Speaking of the Times, the so-called Paper of Record was once again called out for overstating the extent of crime on the subway. (Human Transit)
  • Our friends in the biz have started a new alt-news website, Hell Gate, and the debut “issue” is a must-read.
  • Indeed, one of the outlets first stories was a great one by Nick Pinto about how Dara Weiss, a city lawyer who has long defended the NYPD, was fired on Friday after she was “found to have lied to the federal judge and to have forged multiple documents, mocking up fake copies of an email that she had claimed to send, but never had.”
  • Police malfeasance was also in the news a lot yesterday:
    • Gothamist reported that stalling by the NYPD has undermined many CCRB cases.
    • Streetsblog reported on how the NYPD lied to cover up a plate-defacing cop.
    • A retired NYPD cop was among the insurrectionists at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (NYDN, NY Post)
    • The police are padding their paltry reckless driving summons numbers by having anti-gun units stop random drivers and then, apparently, writing them up for minor traffic violations when there’s no gun in the car. (NY Post)
  • We know cars are bad for bus service, but when they crash into rail tracks, they’re bad for train service, too. (amNY)
  • Lots of critics are carping about Mayor Adams’s diss of the annual Inner Circle satire show. The Post played it straight, but at the new Hell Gate site, Christopher Robbins got into the weeds about this fake charity and its coziness with mayors past and present. “Inert Circle,” he called it. Nice.
  • Once again, the Daily News reported on a horrific crash, published a picture that had the car driver’s plate number, then failed to report the driver’s prior recklessness (in this case, four camera-issued speeding tickets since December).
  • New NYC Transit President Richard Davey was at the Roosevelt-74th Street station in Jackson Heights, chatting up riders. (NY Post, amNY, Gothamist)
  • And, finally, we are constantly impressed by the mastery of journalism, satire and straight up yuks dished out by John Oliver on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” and his latest segment on environmental racism is a great example. Unfortunately, the piece had a glaring omission. Would it have killed Oliver to also point out the racist history of America’s highways and cars? Still, a must-watch: