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Bike thief “exposed” on Craigslist

Posted by on October 25th, 2009 at 7:29 pm


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Note: At 7:29pm this evening I published a story based on a Craigslist post (it has since been flagged and is no longer visible) that contained photos and serious allegations about a bike thief working in Southeast Portland. In the past hour I have heard from several personal friends of the alleged thief and they vouch that he is nothing of the sort (and I believe them because they are also friends of mine).

I have removed the story and I apologize for any confusion it might have caused. I also regret helping to perpetuate — if even for just a few hours — something that was simply not true.

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Comments
  • Tony Fuentes October 25, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Whoa! It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Despite what he/she states, I hope the poster also contacted the police.

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  • little October 25, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    this is the man i bought my bike from when i moved here two years ago and wasn’t a biker/didn’t know about the bike-stealing problem in portland. when i bought from him he was on 44th and lincoln. he had a fair amount of bikes in his backyard and garage, but i didn’t see any in the house. he told me he got them from junkshops and fixed them up. some of them did look pretty bad but after i found out about how fastidious portlanders are about recycling and how many cycle shops would have taken those materials off people’s hands, i was dubious. since i realized, i’ve been terrified someone is going to confront me one day about riding around on their bike!

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  • Anonymous October 25, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Hmmm… not psyched about the poster being “outraged” that the alleged theif “mouthed off” to a woman, of all people. I would be totally unsuprised if the poster turned out to have made it all up, or was at least a little nuts himself.

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  • dutch October 25, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    that looks an awful lot like one of my friends. and thats right about where he lives. I know he is a bike enthusiast, but to hear an accusation that he is stealing them comes with outright shock when compared with what I know of him.

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  • Zaphod October 25, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    It would be best to contact the police and have him busted for stealing all of these bikes, assuming there’s some truth to this.

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  • PDXbiker October 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    There is only one way to confirm this and that is to give law enforcement probable cause to search his house. This poster should definitely put in a police report on this. If this is true, hopefully he hasn’t backed up the U-Haul truck yet and cleaned the place out. Alleged jerks like this deserve cosequences.

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  • SkidMark October 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    The fact that the CL poster claim to have watched him get his own bikes stolen, and he DIDN’T get the Police involved, make the whole thing seem suspicious. I think it’s some sort of personal beef between these two people, and this guy is just making a wild accusation, and dragging someone’s name through the mud, possibly for no reason whatsoever.

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  • KJ October 25, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    If the poster is wrong, then the outed “theif” (quotes since we do not know it’s true. maybe he pissed this guy off in some other way.) would have a nice case for a defamation or slander lawsuit eh? Should have gone to the cops I think.

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  • PDXbiker October 25, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    So Jonathan, were you able to contact the Craigslist poster?

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  • navinrjohnson October 25, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    “I considered reporting him to the police”

    You considered it? Uhh..

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) October 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    re: contacting the police. before the posting was flagged for removal, the guy who posted it left an update as to why he didn’t contact the cops:

    “I personally dont like dealing with cops anymore than I like dealing with rip-off punks or craigslist aholes and thier two cents. How I dealt with my shi# being jacked was my right. And how you react to knowing I was jacked is yours. Go ahead and blame the messenger if you want. But if you ever think I am going to call the fuzz for you then you are watching waaay too much fox news. Peace!”

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  • are October 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    if he had just locked the bikes up, what was he doing in a “vehicle” 50 feet away

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  • wsbob October 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I’m glad the guy got his bikes back, but his explanation for not bringing the police into the situation doesn’t wash. Telling his story to the broader audience of craigslist might be of benefit to someone, but expecting that effort to be the best way to put the thief out of business sounds just crazy to me.

    At the very least, the police should have been contacted immediately after the guy retrieved his family’s two stolen bikes. Without that effort, and especially after posting the story on craigslist, the alleged thief would have been free to immediately start moving the bikes to another location to avoid more trouble.

    The story above, nor that of the person that posted his story to craigslist gives a time or date of the theft. I just hope that at least by, now, the cops have got wind of the story. Sundays are slow. I would imagine they might be very interested in driving on over and meeting the person that recovered his bikes and the person he accuses of having stole them.

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  • Leah October 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    i highly doubt there is any credibility to this post. i have been inside said (notably small) apartment, and it is not filled with bikes. he does ride a bike and has a few others for personal use, but not hundreds. very strange. he is a friend of mine and i have never had any indication that he would ever engage in this sort of behavior. please keep an open mind if you are reading this and don’t be too quick to condemn.

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  • are October 25, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    any why did he not intervene until these several bikes had all been cut and moved across the street. and what’s the deal with the church. and where were the wife and kiddies in the meantime.

    also a “full blown kleptomaniac” steals from impulse, not to re-sell bikes

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  • SkidMark October 25, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Like I like dealing with cops…I just know when I have no other option.

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  • cyclist October 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Jonathan:

    This is why newspapers insist on editorial standards. This is why you should too.

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  • deadbuny October 25, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    #16 +1!

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  • sysfail October 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I know the accused in the CL post for awhile now, can say this is so surprising that I just don’t believe it. I have also been to that house and it’s the normal zoobomb/DIY bike pile…yes kids bikes and all.

    Like in the one picture he posted, my friend seems to be waving. A thief wouldn’t just sit there pose for pictures.

    Really I want to know who the poster is and glad you removed it. This sounds like trash to me.

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  • tent October 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Wow – reporting based on a Craigslist ad. I can’t think of a less credible source. Sounds like you got sucked into the sensationalism and jumped the gun. Hopefully the foray into tabloid journalism has taught you a lesson.

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  • Shantastic October 26, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Thanks for taking it down! Misunderstanding, if not a blatant sketch piece of information in the first place. Team bikeportland, Thanks for taking some accountability there. Too bad the Oregonian couldn’t have the same civility when they published the “Cars VS Bikes” front-pager. I’m glad y’all are out there.

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  • Matt Davis October 26, 2009 at 7:22 am

    So, how much due diligence did you do on this story before you posted, Jon?

    If you’re going with something potentially defamatory, you really need to know it’s going to stand up, first.

    I thought you knew all this stuff! What went wrong?

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  • MAF October 26, 2009 at 7:28 am

    The guy selling the bikes might want to read Portland City Code 14B.90.010 and 14B.90.030… selling bikes on a routine basis opens you up for a fine from the City if you don’t have a secondhand dealers license.

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  • david October 26, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Before we all go any further, and nobody ends up without a eye left, lets all remember when stones get thrown someone gets hit. Often someone close to us. Woops doesnt quite cut it but some of us are kicking ourselves pretty good right now. So how about we all take a breath..or two

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  • ScottG October 26, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I’d hate to see such a wonderful web site brought down due to a libel lawsuit. I do hope the victim is forgiving.

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  • Skye Blue October 26, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I know the alleged thief and he told me about this incident the day it happened. He exited his apartment to find several unlocked children’s bikes leaning against the telephone pole on the corner. This corner is a well known free box area, and has had free items on it for well over 3 years (as long as I have been in S.E. Portland). The alleged ‘thief’ moved one of the bikes to the side of his house. This means that the bike was still on the sidewalk, public property, and within full view of the corner. He did not lock it up, instead he took his dogs for a walk. When he arrived back he was confronted by an angry man about ‘stealing’ his bike. This man was acting very strange and being very aggressive. He was making a stink about the bike being moved 10 feet. These are kids bikes but he had no children with him, nor did he mention any. He also had what appeared to be a scrapper truck. The alleged ‘thief’ apologized, and tried to explain that the corner was an area where free items are traditionally left to be taken, but to no avail. When I heard the story first hand, my impression was that the ‘victim’ was on drugs.

    Portland is a very small town. This story could have been easily researched better. I want to find the bike thief also, but the wrong person got fingered in what is potentially a racist profiling.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) October 26, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Thanks for all the feedback.

    For the record, my story was simply sharing a Craigslist post that alleged there was a bike thief operating in SE Portland.

    My story did not presume any guilt and every reference to the alleged person and their actions was prefaced with “alleged” and the poster “claims that…”.

    In hindsight, I could have waited longer and found out a bit more before publishing it. I didn’t.

    The story was up for about 2.5 hours and I took it down as soon I confirmed it was untrue.

    And for what it’s worth, I have heard from the person victimized by this slanderous Craigslist post and will be in touch with him today. At this point, it doesn’t seem like he’s too upset with BikePortland.

    Thanks everyone for your understanding. I’ve published 5,020 stories in the past 4 1/2 years and I’m still honing my judgment.

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  • Marcus Griffith October 26, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Okay people, some basics: The fault of libel lies with the original author of Craig’s List post–if it is indeed malicious and false accusations. Bike Portland did not violate any standards or procedures by reporting on a Craig’s List post. Granted, a little fact checking may have avoided the issue, but to claim Bike Portland is liable for libel would be to argue that every news channel that covered Balloon Boy were conspirators in the hoax.

    Other than that, if your bike is stolen, report it to the police.

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  • cthulhu October 26, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I just want to say 5,020 stories in 4 and a half years?! Way to go Jonathan! BikePortland just gets better and better.

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  • Mike B. October 26, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Seriously, this is ridiculous. Jonathan, your site has enough folks following it that you NEED to practice better judgement.

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  • longtime BikePortland reader October 26, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Mike B. (#30)

    You NEED to cool down… Jonathan pulled the story, posted a mea culpa, and apologized for any confusion it caused. No need to beat a dead horse.

    Jonathan does a formidable job covering all the bike news at a crazy pace (5,000 stories in less than 5 years!), so please cut him some slack for dropping the ball on this one.

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  • Brad October 26, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Reporting on a Craigslist ad is just bad form. Including a photo of an alleged thief could have provoked someone to dispense vigilante “justice” for their recently stolen ride. Unreal!

    Perhaps this site should go dark for a few days so that the BikePortland staff can think about how to move forward. The quality of reporting has been slipping of late. There seems to be less real news and more self indulgent editorializing and promotion. I cannot decide whether BikePortland is just a pro-bike blog and P.R. portal or attempting to be a source of serious bike focused journalism?

    Like the Portland Mercury, the content here is drifting more towards “Because we think it’s (we’re) cool!” or “These are our friends!” rather than balanced and objective coverage. No one expects BikePortland to have the gravitas of a major journalistic outlet but how many fluffy stories do we really need about Oregon Manifest, bike porn, bike fun, etc. treated as serious topics when so much can be done to “inform and inspire” people to accept bikes as a serious transportation tool and use them accordingly? Personally, I’d like to know what BTA has planned or how politicians other than Sam Adams see Portland’s bike future. How about some thoughtful analysis or debate about the long term plans of PBOT or Metro rather than a few quotes and an online link to their PowerPoint presentation? How about some informed criticism of said plans instead of just cheerleading for “anything bike is GOOD!”? Why not talk to “The Enemy” to see why they are so upset about bikes or what they think a solution is? That might be enlightening and thought provoking for all.

    In addition to news, why not profile regular folks that ditched the car life for cycle commuting? How about a primer on getting started or making it a year round proposition? Yes, this would take some effort but it ultimately provides better content for the readers and is actually useful information. Over the past few months all I can remember reading about here is:

    Boutique bike builders are cool and like beer!

    Rev. Phil made more porn!

    Some people like riding bikes in the buff!

    Las Vegas is scary!

    Bike fun evidently requires wearing black and pink striped hosiery.

    Cars are the new smoking, or date rape, or skin cancer, or something really bad and easy to sloganize.

    The Oregonian and the cops suck!

    Babies are the new fixies!

    Sam Adams is brilliant because he likes bikes. Do not question him…ever!

    I have been terribly self indulgent with this post so I’ll stop. Seriously though, take the time to think about focusing the site and the content on it. There is so much potential here to meet the goals of your masthead without turning into the Fox News of bikes or becoming just another tacky local tabloid.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) October 26, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Brad,

    Thanks for the feedback. I try to make sure BikePortland includes a lot of perspectives from all sides of our bike scene… even if you don’t personally them, that includes stories on art, culture, nakedness, families, fixies, handmade bike builders, major events (like the Oregon Manifest) etc…

    Somehow you’ve missed it, but we have done in-depth reports on a number of issues and we regularly do much more than simply providing a link to a plan and cheerleading for Sam Adams.

    I agree with you that more analysis and long-range, in-depth articles would be great to see… however those type of articles take a lot more time to develop and we do not have a large staff to turn to. One my current goals is to build up a team/staff so that I can focus precisely on the type of in-depth coverage you — and I — want to see.

    You have some good ideas in your comment and I’ll keep them in mind in the future as I balance the many things that go into my decisions about what gets published and what doesn’t.

    thanks.

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  • Paul October 26, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Hey Brad: I have a blog too, and say whatever the hell I want on it. Isn’t that what blogs are for? Spilling your guts?

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  • Vance Longwell October 26, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Paul #34 – This isn’t a weblog.

    As long as commenter wish-lists are being considered I’d like to see a concerted effort here to reduce the scope of rhetoric. Too many times I read here, “Portland Cyclists”, when it’s really just 3,500 of the BTAs sycophants, or the Clinton St. crowd that are being reported on.

    It is my opinion that Maus and Blue erroneously believe their appeal to be much, much, broader than it really is, as evidenced by the significant reduction in comment activity here lately. It is completely unfair to Portland cyclists that don’t support the BTA, or this site, and their anti-car, Church of Green agenda, to continually, even if by accident or lack of sensitivity, posture as though they speak for us all.

    What Maus and Blue seem to fail at understanding is that their words here effect us all. The agenda here is off-putting to a huge segment of our fellow citizens. It may not be their intent to speak for us, but their language, and the reality of interpersonal human interaction, leaves me taking grenades for a cause I do not support.

    I’m tired of being lambasted for riding my bike for the environment, or that I’m anti-car, or that I support all of this Church of Green hog-wash. A little sensitivity dictates that when doing a story on Zoobombers, or the elitists at the BTA, that care be taken to make obvious that these views are held by a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, minority of cyclists in the area.

    Or, “Steady as she goes”, and you can ruin it for all of us. Either way, this ain’t no blog.

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  • joe October 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    perhaps a good follow up angle in addition to your interview with the falsely accused would be to try to find out the who what why and hows of the false accuser?

    was it a joke, a cry for help, revenge for being too cool? why would someone do that?

    whatever you decide to do next, your apology and editorial discretion are more than accepted here.

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  • wsbob October 26, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    comment #27/ editor maus

    I know I’ll be interested in hearing more about the alleged thief.

    The alleged victim’s initial craigslist post was quite a piece of writing. Except for the lack of some key information, it sounded like it could be true; the language used, the chronology of the tale told with the kids involved, the accompanying picture with arrows posted above. The update he is said to have posted to craigslist, which Maus reposts on this thread in comment #11, doesn’t present him nearly as well as his original craigslist post, and has the effect of somewhat reversing the possibility that there was truth to his story.

    Skyblue’s comment #26 is the one that so far, I’d be inclined to think of as the more reliable account of what happened. So if he’s willing, lets hear from the alleged thief. He may be nothing more insidious than a good guy fixing up a bunch of junker bikes for a few bucks to get by on.

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  • peejay October 26, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Jonathan:

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Not having seen your original post, I think you exercised pretty good judgement on this one. I think some of your readers want you to write specifically to reinforce their point of view, to which the best reply is: The internet isn’t full yet, and some space still exists for you to put up a competing site that covers a different point of view.

    Yes, I disagree with some of your calls, but, hey, we don’t all think alike. Keep at it, Jonathan, and keep being interesting!

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  • are October 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    vance 35, what definition of “weblog” does this site not meet? obviously any blog represents the point of view of the blogger, even if it is “merely” an aggregator, which this clearly is not. what you yourself have going on is a “blog,” no? and certainly it represents a very narrow point of view.

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  • twistyaction October 26, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    @ Vance, # 35: You noticed: “as evidenced by the significant reduction in comment activity here lately.”

    We were just out enjoying the weather on our bikes.

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  • Jeff Parker October 26, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Kind of my fault for linking to the Craigslist post in the first place on the Open Thread- as I said, “if” it were legit. So I apologize. But I’m pretty sure no one on here pays Jonathan a thin dime for his efforts, so don’t stand on a moral high horse expecting him to be the New York Times. He’s bent over backwards to rectify a post that wasn’t even up for a day. And no names were mentioned.

    I was hopeful something would lead to busting some- any of the bike thieves and fencers, and I still think we should share any info we can. I know way too many people who are victims of them. I do think we can all respond more heavily to Craigslist sellers and make it harder for bike thieves to have a place to deal. Just emailing a few careful questions to cagey sellers often makes them take down their ad.

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  • SkidMark October 26, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Vance, maybe you should start your own blog.

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  • Steve B. October 26, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    “I’ve published 5,020 stories in the past 4 1/2 years and I’m still honing my judgment.”

    Keep up the great work, Jonathan! Your efforts are tremendously important and greatly appreciated, not just in Portland, but around the globe.

    We all make mistakes, folks. Not all journalists are as transparent and thoughtful as the folks of BikePortland. I’d argue that our local bike scene wouldn’t be half as vibrant without the connector/informer role that Bikeportland plays.

    Thanks you x 1000000000

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  • bbking October 26, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Most readers (unfortunately) will omit words like “allegedly” because they are A) stupid or B) assuming that if the story is being run by a known and loved bike-stuff journalist then there must be truth enough in it, and these adjectives become what seems to be a mere legal formality. Seems like you do an ok job most time JM, but a simple retraction is NOT enough. Again, just as the words you use to keep from seeming like judge and jury are lost, so is a retraction that is quite possibly going to be seen as a legal necessity. Congratulations on your first “Rather”

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  • Jeff October 27, 2009 at 10:32 am

    I think Brad has some good points, as harsh as they seem. This site is at the center of the bike scene in Portland, which itself is highly visible nationwide right now. You’ve put a tremendous amount of work into building it, generating content, and maintaining a large, active readership, and that’s a commendable thing.

    Now that you have staff, advertisers, and God knows how many people syndicating your content onto their own blogs, it might be a good time to review editorial policies, and also the mission/mandate of the site. I’m an avid cyclist, car-free for five years, who also rides recreationally, hacks away at framebuilding in the basement, etc. — your typical wild-eyed bike lover. BUT — I’m also over forty, and I could care less about most of what passes for “bike culture” and “bike fun.” To me, bike fun is going for a bike ride. It used to be that most of your articles were ride alerts, political posts about transportation policy, and things of that nature. I miss the more sober, transportation-oriented news — not that you don’t have any, but it seems to be getting buried under a slew of “yay bikes!” content. I’d be interested in seeing a little more serious journalism, and a bit less promoting of local businesses and flogging local bike “celebrities.”

    I view the site primarily through RSS, so I got an article about the Craigslist “thief” — the original article still shows up unmodified in my feed reader. I have to admit, my jaw dropped when I read the article. I really couldn’t believe you would pick up something so unsubstantiated, even reprinting the photo of the accused! By doing that, you’re not just reporting on what’s happening on Craigslist, you’re putting your stamp of credibility on it as a journalist. I found it pretty shocking, and I didn’t find your retraction/apology very convincing — I wanted to see an apology to the guy in the picture! We do still have that “innocent until proven guilty” thing in this country.

    That said, I don’t mean to flog a dead horse — I know mistakes happen, and that this isn’t a 30-person operation with fact checkers and copy editors. I do encourage you to take this issue very seriously, though, even if it doesn’t result in any legal action. And it would be great to see the quality and focus of the reporting continue to improve, as you ramp up your organization.

    Thanks for listening, and for providing such a valuable resource.

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  • chelsea October 27, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Maybe people should stop whining and do their own bike blog is they think they can do a better job. If you don’t like don’t read it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) October 27, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for the feedback Jeff (and others).

    I think about our mission and mandate all the time. The expectations people have of this site have changed dramatically over a short period of time. I do my best to meet those expectations, but to some extent, they are unrealistic.

    I built this site based on an extra-ordinary amount of focus and hard work. I neglected my wife and kids for years and built something rare — a blog about a niche topic that i can actually make a living from.

    I cannot continue to put in that amount of dedication.

    Yes, I have more help than I used to, but when you consider the amount the scene has grown, the expectations for the site, and the volume of people, projects, etc.. that are pulling at me in all directions, you start to understand that we are barely any better able to deal with all the work now than when it was just me with no help and no advertisers to speak of.

    Also, despite how it might look to the outside, we are far from media moguls. I can pay my bills, pay Elly, and afford to eat out once in a while. However, we are still barely making it.

    It takes a tremendous effort to make a living doing this. There are many things weighing on my mind, not the least of which is our editorial mission.

    I make mistakes. I am not a journalistic robot nor will I ever be. BikePortland is my training ground… it’s like having thousands of people looking over my shoulder as I try to make the grade in j-school.

    The awesome thing is that everything I learned about journalism I learned right here on this website — by working everyday on every story, for the past 4 1/2 years.

    Thanks again for all your feedback. I have always appreciated candor from readers and I do take it to heart.

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