the oregonian

A look inside one newspaper’s thinking on crashes, accidents and collisions

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 31st, 2016 at 9:39 am

fatal accident angle coverage of a fatal collision this month.

“Accident”? “Crash”? “Collision”?

The Oregonian’s director of news says the newspaper’s unofficial practice has been, for years, to avoid “accident” in the absence of information because that word suggests that a traffic incident was unpreventable.

But the copy desk chief says the opposite: his preference is to go with “accident” in the absence of information because he feels “crash” and “collision” are favored by “activists” and the newspaper needs to remain neutral.

Reporters, meanwhile, don’t seem to be sure what to do. Last week, a business reporter was taking her turn on a weekend cops shift when an allegedly drunk driver killed a 17-year-old; her report described this as a “bike accident.” After a local lawyer emailed her to suggest different phrasing, she first described the word choice as “fine” based on the advice of one editor, then later apologized based on the advice of a different editor.

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Oregonian video offers closer look at bike share hardware

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on September 24th, 2015 at 11:12 am

The Oregonian has a useful review today of the “fourth-generation” bikes lined up for the bike sharing system that’s set to launch in Portland by next July.

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Bikes, a perfectly normal part of growth in Portland’s Central Eastside

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 24th, 2015 at 9:52 am

bike parking at Central Eastside Lofts-13

Parking garage at the Central Eastside Lofts.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Since we’ve taken some shots at Oregonian news coverage lately, it’s worth highlighting a moment of bike-friendly perceptiveness in their coverage.

Sunday’s cover story was the second in the paper’s occasional series about Portland’s changing Central Eastside, an “industrial sanctuary” that’s gradually been adding more office workers and, at the developing Burnside Bridgehead, several big apartment buildings.

The first installment, back in January, included some interesting perspective of what it feels like to run a truck-dependent business facing the Taylor Street neighborhood greenway. This weekend’s focused specifically on the food industry, and mentioned bicycles in the most casual way possible.

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Bill in legislature would legalize safe crossings against unresponsive red lights

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 13th, 2015 at 1:14 pm

stuck on red

Many Portland bike users don’t realize how to use
detector loops like the one at NE Tillamook and
MLK Boulevard.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Though a bill as seemingly uncontroversial as state Senate Bill 533 isn’t the sort of thing we’d usually bother covering, some coverage today that originated in The Oregonian certainly has people talking.

As the O correctly explains in the seventh paragraph of the web version of its front-page story, SB 533 would make it legal to “proceed with caution” through a red light that is trying, but failing, to detect one’s bicycle or motorcycle. This would only be allowed after someone has waited through a full cycle.

Here’s how Oregonian reporter and columnist Joseph Rose and his editors chose to explain this bill:

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Oregonian story makes light of running over bicycle riders – UPDATED

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on November 20th, 2014 at 3:55 pm


A story posted on The Oregonian’s website earlier today seems to make a joke about very serious and potentially dangerous driving behavior.
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Opinion: The PBA and The Oregonian are wrong about street tax impetus

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on November 14th, 2014 at 12:59 pm


They’ve never said “Our Streets” is only for paving.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Senator 1976-2000

It’s one thing to be opposed to something on principle or policy grounds, but when the facts are twisted to suit an agenda, that’s something else entirely.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what The Oregonian Editorial Board and the Portland Business Alliance have done. Both of these groups are staunchly opposed to the latest transportation revenue proposal unveiled by Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick earlier this week. I’m not entirely in love with the proposal (I think a paltry 7% of total spending toward biking-specific infrastructure isn’t enough); but that’s a different conversation. For now, there’s one aspect of the argument from the PBA and The Oregonian that really needs to be called out.
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The Oregonian Editorial Board on Portland’s “risky bike share venture”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 7th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

“Bike sharing isn’t essential, and a bike-sharing system with unexpected complications requiring city subsidies would undermine the public’s confidence in the city’s ability to set priorities and manage money.”
— Oregonian Editorial Board, December 21st, 2013.

With a big announcement about the Portland Bike Share system likely to come this month, The Oregonian Editorial Board is making it clear where they stand. Portland’s risky bike-share venture is the title of their editorial that ran on the front page of the opinion section on December 21st.

The piece reflects the opinion of the members of the O’s editorial board: Mark Hester, Erik Lukens, Susan Nielsen, Len Reed and David Sarasohn. As our bike share system gets closer to reality, we’ll be watching closely how the local media tries to frame the narrative around the project. After all, the project has all the components of a media freakout: the concept (at least on this scale) is unprecedented in Portland, bike share is usually misunderstood by people that haven’t used it (just like cycling in general), it’s an idea first championed by former Mayor Sam Adams, and it involves bicycling. [Read more…]

From The Oregonian, Jan. 1, 1895: ‘Reign of the wheel’

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 2nd, 2014 at 8:25 am

An 1899 newspaper ad for a Portland bike shop, from a
presentation by local bike historian Eric Lundgren.

The first issue of The Morning Oregonian in 1895 included an article that holds up wonderfully well.

It was published one year before the first organized bicycle recreation association formed in Portland; two years before 800 local donors crowd-funded the city’s first dedicated bike path on North Williams and Vancouver Avenues; four years before Oregon governor-elect T.T. Geer bought a bicycle of his own and led the charge for road improvements through the state.

And 119 years later, this short case for the merits of biking still feels like the perfect way to kick off a year of progress.

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The Oregonian’s unfortunate letters about Hawthorne bike counter – UPDATED

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on March 20th, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Public opinion not based on facts.

The Oregonian published two letters in today’s paper that allow a falsehood to go unchecked and that further perpetuate the incorrect notion harbored by many readers of that publication that bike-related spending by the City of Portland is both bad policy and out of control (neither of which are true of course).

The letters came in response to a story about the Hawthorne Bike bike counter that ran online on Sunday (3/17) and also ran in Monday’s print edition (page A6).

The online version of the story, Portland bike counter: Nudging 1 million trips over the Hawthorne Bridge, mentioned “the city’s $20,000 bike counter,” in the opening lines. Much lower down, in a “quick facts” section of the story, the reporter noted (correctly) that the counter was “donated to the city by Cycle Oregon.”[Read more…]

The Oregonian exposes ‘culture of exhaustion’ among TriMet operators

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 7th, 2013 at 11:03 am

Sunday’s front page.

On Sunday, The Oregonian published a major front page story on the issue of driver fatigue at TriMet. The report was the result of an eight month investigation into driving records and the findings are quite disconcerting to say the least. As someone who regularly shares the road just inches from buses and MAX trains, the thought that a driver might be drowsy or asleep at the wheel is very scary.

The Oregonian story recounts several anecdotes and backs them up with TriMet’s own reports and other documentation. In one example, reporter Joseph Rose wrote that, “In a 2010 case a veteran Line 75 driver decided to retire rather than fight a report that he fell asleep at the wheel ‘almost every day.'” When a rider complained that one driver had completely fallen asleep at a stop, the driver was never disciplined.

TriMet Director of Operations Shelly Lomax told the paper, “We do not have a policy against closing one’s eyes.”
[Read more…]