Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Oregonian: War? What War?

Posted by on July 16th, 2008 at 9:40 am

The newsstand edition of today’s Oregonian.

roadragefrontpage.jpg

Front page on July 10th.

In what will hopefully be one of the final bits of coverage inspired by the two road rage incidents that have captivated Portland (and the nation) for the past week, The Oregonian has once again made bikes their lead story.

Today’s headline marks the fourth time in six days that The Oregonian has given this issue above-the-fold, front page treatment in their newsstand edition (which differs from the edition delivered to homes). (See the other three below).

The latest article, War between bikes and cars? Not in Portland, focuses on how there really is no “war” at all.

Oregonian front page day 2

Front page on July 11th.

The irony is that many people (myself included) feel that The Oregonian was responsible for pushing the idea in the first place.

The article includes quotes from the Police, myself, the BTA, and others. It also features a good summary of opinions on how to respond if you see someone do something dangerous or illegal on the road.

I should also point out that the companion treatment of the story on The Oregonian’s website (screenshot here) comes with the headline of “Bikes and Cars” (emphasis mine) — a major improvement over the usual “Bikes vs. Cars” they’ve used in previous days.

oregonian front page-1.jpg

Front page on July 15th.

Looking back at the last week, some have criticized me for focusing too much on The Oregonian’s coverage of the incidents, instead of the incidents themselves. However, I still feel like The Oregonian’s coverage is arguably a larger story than what actually happened on the streets.

What do you think?

Read the full article at OregonLive.com.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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miguelaron
Guest

a few disagreements and a few oregonian front pages aren\’t necessarily a war.

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

\”Maybe we overplayed the story\” is the most you will get publicly out of the O, but – although they\’ve abandoned their public responsibility in favor of sensationalism – they\’re not stupid. They know thoughtful Portlanders see that this was irresponsible journalism.

That aside, it\’s still a crappy newspaper. If there was ever any chance of me having a subscription, it\’s long gone.

Aaron
Guest

It\’s not a war;
it\’s an \’escalated conflict\’ against the \’terrorists\’ who \’hate our freedom.\’

Maija
Guest
Maija

I agree with you, Jonathan. I think the tone of the articles were ridiculous and inflammatory. I think today\’s article summed that up that it is concerning that this type of coverage may increase these incidents.

I was confused by one thing in today\’s article, in the list of tips for bicyclists. It said if you mess up, you should give a \”my bad\” wave. Can someone explain for me what this is??? I really liked the tip for drivers to not honk unless it\’s an emergency. That\’s one of my big pet peeves – usually when drivers have honked at me, it\’s because they perceive me as in their way on the road. Not a valid horn use, in my book.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Today\’s story is The Oregonian\’s way of recognizing that their own coverage this past week has been abysmal. It is great they are finally putting the situation on the road into context. Just wish they would have done that when the road rage incidents took place instead of going for sensationalism.

Graham
Guest
Graham

\”You furnish the [cell phone video] and I\’ll furnish the war.\”

Fulton
Guest
Fulton

Hey, I\’m more interested in learning more about the ins and out of competitive eating.

Newspapers vs Craigslist
Guest

Sometimes I feel empathy for an industry searching for a new way in a changing information landscape. Not this week though. Using inflammatory headlines that endanger vulnerable community members on bike by stoking testosterone driven road rage to sell more papers and then filling out the story with \”just kidding\” is not journalism by any stretch of the imagination. It also does not endear that community to your efforts. Click here to cancel subscriptions, if you still have one.

Ethan
Guest

And now back to our regularly scheduled program . . .

joel
Guest

jeez. would someone kill this story already?

this was never about bike vs car – both incidents were conflicts between a drunk and a buttinski. they would have turned out the same if one had been riding a giraffe, and the other piloting a submarine. classic case of a newspaper making a story where there isnt one.

so over this. time to get back to real bicycle news.

The Machine
Guest
The Machine

Jonathan –

I heard you on the radio this morning and overall I think it went pretty well.

I do have to say I think you copped out a little bit by saying you don\’t consider yourself a bicycle advocate.

You run a bike centric blog, you are an active member of the \”bicycle community\”, and you even won yourself an Alice B. Toeclips award. If you\’re not a bicycle advocate, who is?

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

You mean people ride Giraffes in Little Beirut as well?

That figures.

Aaron is so right.

Me2
Guest
Me2

Jonathan I won\’t criticize you for focusing on how the O covered the story. I think media watchdog is a critical role and you do it well.

However, I am puzzled as to why you think its \”unfortunate\” that a story that downplays the sensationalism of a couple of isolated events is on the front page. IIRC a common criticism of news outlets is that they post the sensationalistic stories on the front page and follow up stories, which address the bigger picture, get buried in later pages.

The O is a newspaper, they react to newsworthy events. To their credit they took a couple of incidents that had legs and parlayed it into a front page story that basically says if you consider the bigger picture things are pretty good between motorists and bicycles.

You can\’t have it both ways. If it is an issue when the media buries the sober second thought pieces, then it shouldn\’t be an issue when they put such a story on the front page.

Anti-bike fruitcakes
Guest
Anti-bike fruitcakes

to-joel #9

That was freakin hilarious!
…\”they would have turned out the same if one had been riding a giraffe, and the other piloting a submarine\”
So true. The anti-bike crowd is always looking for a reason blast cyclists and were only silenced by the publicized actions of a drunk rogue car driver trying to kill cyclists. Thank the Oregonian for profiteering from a sensationalized story and fostering hatred and divisiveness to make a buck.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”I am puzzled as to why you think its \”unfortunate\” that a story that downplays the sensationalism of a couple of isolated events is on the front page\”

Me2,

I think you\’ve misunderstood something. I never said today\’s front page story was \”unfortunate\”.

my \”hopefully\” comment in the first line was based on my feeling that a lot of people are ready to move on and that this topic is done for now (at least done in this context, the issues are still ripe for delving into).

Zaphod
Guest
Zaphod

While it would have been best for the Oregonian to have not run the antagonistic content this week, this (hopefully) final piece is helpful. For those that allow the media to frame their thinking, this article should go a long way in bringing sanity back into the conversation.

I commend them for running the article on the front page.

Mr DeJerk
Guest

Hmmm… but, maybe, there should be a war…
I am not joking.

burning shame
Guest
burning shame

Giraffe vs Submarine war? Oh, it is ON!!!

travis
Guest

actually, The Oregonian, There is a war. in IRAQ! and in IRAN soon, Afghanistan ect…. Bike vs Car??!??!?! RICH vs POOR!!!

do some real reporting….theres alot of bodies piling up… i think thats a better story than a couple of people getting into hassles on the road.

shane
Guest
shane

The problem here is that people forget that all that the \”news\” is is entertainment and propaganda. No news is unbiased and no media outlet can sell without the entertainment. Once a paper or a broadcast or a blog creates a headline to capture people’s attention it has become entertainment. Once one of these “news” providers tells only one side of the story, it is propaganda. Any news provider that tries to tell you different, is lying to themselves therefore they are lying to you.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I was glad to see this. I had posted a comment on their blog that now that they pointed out we\’re divided it would be more laudable for them to run a follow-up article with several of the misunderstood road rules that lead to incorrect assumptions. Several comments on their blog (from both cyclists and motorists) showed ignorance of the statutes and ordinances; some chastised behaviors that are actually legal (such as taking the lane when necessary).

One minor pick that I have is their first tip to motorists: check the bike lane. Since cyclists are required to share lanes by staying to the right even when there is no bike lane, drivers should be taught to always check to their right when turning right. People may be in motion on bikes, skateboards, razors, or even wheeled shoes, on the sidewalks or not.

Robert Dobbs
Guest
Robert Dobbs

When are we going to have a War on Wars on Inanimate Objects?

Or maybe a War on Hyperbole. You could sign my ass up for that one.

Mmann
Guest

As Jonathan pointed out, the Oregonian has consistently run two different covers (as usual) for these stories. The more sensational covers are, of course the newsstand editions. Of course they won\’\’t admit sensationalizing the story, but like any checkout tabloid, they know what sells.

On another note – regarding honking, years ago I had a cop in Gresham pull over a friend of mine who had passed me and honked. I had to talk him out of writing my friend a ticket. The good old days…

Chad
Guest
Chad

The fact that the O is now taking a more responsible journalistic direction on this \”story\” can almost directly be attributed to the pressure placed upon them by Jonathan, letters to the editors, and feedback on their blogs and bikeportland blogs.

That being said, I think the silver lining to this media firestorm is the fact that issues that effect both bicyclists, motorists, and all roadway users concerning the presence of bikes on our roadways has been thrust into the spotlight. The net effect of this will in the short and long term help make all roadway users more aware of all other roadway users.

I have to admit that I feel more noticed on the road this week than I have ever felt before, and instead of it feeling like \”there\’s another stupid traffic law ignoring cyclist\” it feels more like \”hey, I really didn\’t notice you before all this news about bikes and I don\’t want to be the next person on the cover of the Oregonian so I\’m gonna give you all the room you need\”.

Maybe I\’ve got the rose colored road bike sunglasses on, but I\’ve seen a lot of good stuff out there this week.

Jonathan Maus (Editor)
Guest

\”Maybe I’ve got the rose colored road bike sunglasses on, but I’ve seen a lot of good stuff out there this week.\”

i agree with you Chad.

all this coverage does have some positives.

Whyat
Guest
Whyat

\’Looking back at the last week, some have criticized me for focusing too much on The Oregonian’s coverage of the incidents, instead of the incidents themselves\’

I couldn\’t agree more. I said last week that the PDX bike community likes to point fingers instead of taking responsibility for itself. This coverage has been a perfect example. It as if these incidents never would have happened if the Oregonian hadn\’t reported it. It\’s as if the PDX bike community would have chastised the drunken rider if ONLY the Oregonian hadn\’t been sensational in its coverage.

Every article on this site has dealt with the Oregonians coverage. I haven\’t seen a single article on how to bike safely, follow traffic laws, why to avoid biking while intoxicated etc. There are so many better ways to use this site to everyone\’s benefit as opposed to this continued harping on the Oregonian. Understand I\’m not defending the Oregonian, but if I had to pick whether I would rather be hit by a car, assaulted with a bike, or subjected to a crappy newspaper I assure you I would pick the newspaper every time. I\’m also not trying to dog your articles. You\’ve put a ton of time and thought and heart into them. I just feel that at the end of the day you\’ve missed the point.

oldguyonabike
Guest
oldguyonabike

Biked and unbiked Portlanders should also read Steve Duin\’s editorial from the Sunday O. He sat at the Hawthorn Bridge for an hour and counted ~1200 bikes. His commentary on the silent importance of bikes in our city was well stated (IMHO)

Chad
Guest
Chad

Whyat #26…haven\’t seen a single article about biking safely and following traffic laws????

Almost every article on bikeportland is peppered with knowledge that gives bicyclists the information they need to know to bike responsibly and safely. The simple act that the O blew this whole thing out of proportion is a safety issue that effects every road user out there.

I am a much more careful and law abiding road user because of bikeportland, don\’t tell me it\’s a bad idea that I am also informed about issues that effect how safe my daily commute will be.

dobrien
Guest
dobrien

If exposure to \”events\” or even \”non-events\” adds to road-safety awareness, I\’ll venture that the recent coverage by the local media — The Oregonian included — is having and will continue to have an overall favorable impact on everyone who uses the roads in and around Portland. If anything, I don\’t blame The Oregonian to showcase a crazy incident on its front page. Gauging from all the watercooler talk, the article — divisive language and all — struck a chord probably because of how well it mirrored how lots of people think.

If someone\’s looking for ammo to support the notion that bicylists are arrogant and lawless — or that bikes and cars can\’t safely coexist on the same roads — he\’ll find it. On the other hand, if some of us bike commuters think all SUV owners should be contained within Clark County … oh, wait. My point — if I have one — is that a major local news source shined a light on a topic ready for lots of discussion. Dialog is good. It builds and galvanizes a culture of awareness.

Donna
Guest
Donna

All I know is that I will never, ever purchase another Oregonian newspaper again. And I will be telling everyone I know why I won\’t.

Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy

Bikes are the new meth.

Aloe
Guest
Aloe

I think Jonathan\’s focus on how a major media outlet presents its coverage on the events can further inspire divisiveness is a very worthwhile effort. I appreciate how he has drawn attention to this. It is true that how something is said can be more important than what is said. I do find it interesting that they put the headline \”Cyclist clubs driver with his bike\” on a story where the cyclist instigated the altercation, but when an automobile operator instigates, we get \”Driver goes after cyclist\”. Why the notable difference between the two headlines? Why is there specific and graphic verbage in the former, and vague language in the former? It seems to suggest a bias on the part of the media to portray cyclists in a more villainous light. Perhaps that\’s because everyone is a motorist, and very few are cyclists (or so it would seem). I\’m not even sure I would have noticed that difference had Jonathan not been so dilligent in his coverage of the coverage.

LeeMX
Guest
LeeMX

Ok, I\’m pretty sure that the Oregonian knew exactly what they were doing when they were printing those headlines. I mean, those type of headlines attract people who ride bikes and also people who drive cars. In a town like Portland, with headlines like that they must have sold a ton of papers!

I\’ll be honest, after seeing the first headline I almost bought one myself and I can\’t stand the Oregonian. How many other people actually DID purchase one just for novelty of the ridiculous headline? They started a fire under all of your seats! But they successfully made the target of conversation not only the incidents that occurred but also the newspaper themselves, which in turn, will always increase sales. They knew what they were doing and they knew that they could easily write it off as a brief moment of bad journalism and everyone will forget about it. But only after they got away with it for four issues.

One good thing that hopefully came about it is that it got people who normally wouldn\’t be talking about bike and car safety to do just that.

ambrown
Guest

#31, Jimmy, is spot on.

And as others have noted, there actually is a war going on. It\’d be nice to see the Oregonian publish the death toll for American soldiers and Iraqi citizens.

sean
Guest
sean

I don\’t know if anyone said this already but…. the oregonian doesn\’t care about your subscription money they care about advertising dollars and that\’ who they write articles for.

Stu
Guest
Stu

The Snoregonian aren\’t the only ones at it. Take a look at this article, up on the KATU News homepage at the moment:
http://www.katu.com/news/25587809.html

14 paragraphs discussing a bike running a stop sign and hitting car, and the cyclist getting injured. 2 paragraphs at the very end (and no mention on the homepage) about a car running a stop light and hitting and injuring a cyclist.

Biased much???

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Sean, I believe advertising dollars are based on circulation, so selling newspapers is a big part of how they make their money.

Every single time I have ever known the inside story on a newspaper article, in any newspaper, it\’s been full of errors. In case you never heard it before, don\’t believe everything you read. It seems that the Portland bike community just made the stunning discovery that newspapers sometimes sensationalize. Huh. Nothing new under the sun.

I still say it\’s better to have it out in the open if the tension is there and things will get worse before they get better, but that is always the way. I feel quite certain that a wheel has been set in motion (hah, no pun intended.=)) and bicycle ridership will continue to increase, and as it does so, drivers will adapt. The thing is, there are very few true jerks out there – most drivers get upset because they are not totally used to bicycles on the road and they don\’t want to kill you. If you are cooperating in helping them to not kill you, and as they become more aware of the things they need to do to avoid killing you, things will settle down. Increases in gas prices will help too.

Maija, I think the \”my bad\” wave is nearly identical to the \”thanks for letting me in\” wave. Except you might shrug your shoulders when you do it. I think it is a lot harder to feel rage towards someone who seems sorry and seems to get that they were wrong. It\’s when people act entitled to break the law that people get enraged.

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

Sean, I believe advertising dollars are based on circulation, so selling newspapers is a big part of how they make their money.

Every single time I have ever known the inside story on a newspaper article, in any newspaper, it\’s been full of errors. In case you never heard it before, don\’t believe everything you read. It seems that the Portland bike community just made the stunning discovery that newspapers sometimes sensationalize. Huh. Nothing new under the sun.

I still say it\’s better to have it out in the open if the tension is there and things will get worse before they get better, but that is always the way. I feel quite certain that a wheel has been set in motion (hah, no pun intended.=)) and bicycle ridership will continue to increase, and as it does so, drivers will adapt. The thing is, there are very few true jerks out there – most drivers get upset because they are not totally used to bicycles on the road and they don\’t want to kill you. If you are cooperating in helping them to not kill you, and as they become more aware of the things they need to do to avoid killing you, things will settle down. Increases in gas prices will help too.

Maija, I think the \”my bad\” wave is nearly identical to the \”thanks for letting me in\” wave. Except you might shrug your shoulders when you do it. I think it is a lot harder to feel rage towards someone who seems sorry and seems to get that they were wrong. It\’s when people act entitled to break the law that people get enraged.

BURR
Guest
BURR

I\’m willing to bet one of the Oregonian\’s largest sources of advertising revenue is from the sale of motor vehicles – both new and used. This is probably the single largest reason they routinely attack cyclists – it supports their advertisers.

revphil
Guest

media loves to report on media.

i think you are mighty rad, jmaus!

Bicyclist
Guest
Bicyclist

Why is everybody so defensive? So many bicyclists are angry or militant that coverage by The Oregonian is long overdue. Most posters seem to believe that bicyclists never drive, and they\’re wrong.

jim
Guest
jim

I think a lot of my frustrations are stemmed from the Looneys at city hall. Trying to do a normal thing like drive a car in this city is getting increasingly more frusrtating.
Maybe I\’ll give up and move out.

jim
Guest
jim

This last yr. I have seen a whole new crop of riders on the road and I must say that they obey the traffic laws much better than the flock of riders a yr ago. Most of them are motorists bittin by the gas bullet and as motorists they expect to follow the laws and also use some common sense that had beforehand ben lacking, Kudos to them. I know it is hard to sit at a red light when a rouge rider passes on through, you just want to go too. A motorist knows to wait his turn as well as this new crop of cyclists.
Spelling Nazi Guy- please check my message for bad grammer….