What kind of reporting is this!!??

What do you see wrong with the title and contents of this report?

 — From “The Chain Gang”, part of the online Orlando Sentinel:

Car kills cyclist on Orange AvenuePosted: 20 Mar 2010 09:50 PM PDT

A bicyclist died Friday night after he was struck by a vehicle on South Orange Avenue in Orlando.

The man was riding his bicycle southbound on the east side of 3100 block of South Orange about 8:20 p.m., according to the Orlando Police Department.

An unknown vehicle traveling northbound in the outside lane honked its horn and swerved into the inside lane. The bicyclist fell into the outside lane of northbound traffic, where he was struck by a 2004 Chrysler that had been traveling behind the unknown vehicle.

Darnell Hariston, 33, of Orlando, was behind the wheel of the Chrysler.

The bicyclist was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he died. His next of kin have not yet been notified of his death.

No charges are pending, according to police.

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What is wrong with the title?

Is the reporting clear on what happened? How could it be made clearer?

What additional information is missing and would be helpful to know?

Any incorrect information?

Is there any other “message” being delivered with this report?

I don’t like reporting that is done without some thought put into what is being written.  If this report is simply re-gurgetated info from OPD, why bother reporting?

I assume “The Chain Gang” is posting articles that are of interest to the cycling community.  Can anyone tell me what my interest, as a cyclist, should be in this article?  Why should it matter to me?

Comments appreciated.

14 replies
  1. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    I was also irked with this article. I had to read it three or four times to realize the cyclist was traveling against traffic, possibly in a bike lane. No mention of lights. The headline is misleading, as it puts blame on the car.

    The story does smell like a re-gurgetated police report.

    As for “The Chain Gang”, I can’t say if it’s automated but it seems to aggregate cycling related stories (positive or not). I read the story on the “Local” news feed initially.

  2. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    andrew,

    i get the point(s) that one should not ride Orange Avenue when it is after 8pm. and riding on the road is not a good idea because cars kill cyclists. yeah, not!

    what actually happened? what caused the crash? cyclist error? motorists error? both?

    checking “The Chain Gang” for updates.

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    Probably the only thing worse than a regurgitated police report, is a crash report further distorted by a reporter’s ignorance or bias. So, I guess we can be thankful that is missing!

    It’s nothing more than worthless filler, but without context, it reinforces the perception that the roads are too dangerous for cycling.

  4. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I’m surprised someone else hasn’t beat me to it, but clearly if the article is correct, we have to watch out for rogue motor vehicles.

    Car kills cyclist.

    Inanimate object kills human bean.

    No responsiblity needed.

  5. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    I saw a bunch of things that irked me to no end.

    “car kills cyclist …” no, motorist killed cyclist, car was just the object used. (oops I see Fred just caught that too) …..

    Couldn’t someone somewhere have noted that the cyclist was riding on the wrong side of the street, into traffic?

    Missing info: Did bike have lights? Was cyclist riding under the influence, or is it thought he might be? Is this normal riding behavior for cyclists? What would a Cycling expert (read Mighk Wilson) have to say about this kind of crash?

    While I would agree with Keri about further distorting the news with bias or editorial comment, I do think a better title would read “Wrong-way cyclist killed ….”

  6. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Regurgitation is about all they can do, legally speaking. Reporters can’t be interpreting information from the police on a case that’s still under investigation.

  7. Jayeson
    Jayeson says:

    The original article appears to be this one:

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-03-20/news/os-fatal-orange-ave-bicycle-20100320_1_bicyclist-struck-northbound

    which has a more passive, blame free title. It seems the blog poster took some liberties and chose not to provide reference to the original article. This appears to be a pretty long article for the original author, some other reports of traffic incidents by her are only one sentence long.

    There is an update too which gives details on the cyclist:

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-bicyclist-identified-killed-orlando-20100322,0,3365044.story

    I think perhaps it is best that the reporting is left to just the facts reported by police. It seems there are many ways to interpret the information. I interpreted it as follows, using the information in the article and the magic of Google maps. I may be 100% incorrect:

    There is a cycle lane. The rider was probably in it because cycling against traffic on the car lane seems too crazy. Even so, the outside car lane looks to be 12’+. The rider apparently crashed after being startled by the horn. Wrong way riding doesn’t appear to have been a key factor except perhaps it led to the honking in the first place. Any title that implies blame is on super shaky ground. I suspect the horn blast was the key issue. That seems more plausible to me than laying the blame with an unspecified motorist, any of the vehicles or wrong way cycling.

    Should (or does?) vehicular cycling training involve conditioning the rider to the inevitable honking and other incivilities?

  8. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    This is a very suspicious story. Why did the cyclist fall? People over the age of four years old don’t just fall off their bikes.

    I suspect that the motorist was lying to the police to cover up his crime of violence. “Honest, officer, he just fell right in front of my car!”

  9. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Mighk wrote:
    “Reporters can’t be interpreting information from the police on a case that’s still under investigation.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Interesting. Around here, newspapers can, and do, write all kinds of interpretations and opinions. Including whether or not the accused is guilty.

    In this particular case, a reporter would have no hesitation in writing that the motorist’s story is very suspicious.

    • Mighk
      Mighk says:

      Yes, such interpretations are done everywhere, but they are found in either the editorial section or in a columnist’s piece, not in the straight reporting section.

      Yes, the piece could have given better information, but telling readers the cyclist was traveling against the flow of traffic still does not explain why traveling against the flow is riskier than with the flow. That’s a topic for a comprehensive piece on safe cycling — something in which the Sentinel has never shown any interest.

  10. danc
    danc says:

    OK, Andrew I’ll tackle it line-by-line.

    1) What is wrong with the title?

    Cars typically don’t kill rather the vehicle operator, try “Motorist stuck and killed a cyclist [doing something?]

    2) Is the reporting clear on what happened? How could it be made clearer?

    Cryptic summary of events but hardly a why did crash happen, what possibly precipitated the unidentified vehicle operator to honk?

    3) What additional information is missing and would be helpful to know?

    What the cyclist riding with or against traffic? What the motorist impaired? Driving to fast? Light level, Street lights, heavy traffic, maximum speed of the highway section? Weather?

    4) Any incorrect information?

    What is an “unkown vehicle” probably meant unidentified vehicle, a vehicle with a horn.?

    5) Is there any other “message” being delivered with this report?

    Riding on South Orange is dangerous, fatal?

    6) I don’t like reporting that is done without some thought put into what is being written. If this report is simply re-gurgetated info from OPD, why bother reporting?

    Agree, seems to be the trip log details of PD maintains.

    7) I assume “The Chain Gang” is posting articles that are of interest to the cycling community. Can anyone tell me what my interest, as a cyclist, should be in this article? Why should it matter to me?

    Learn from someone mistakes, avoid problems? Understand real nature of the crash? could this death been prevented or avoided? Tom Vanderbilt has a moniker “Accidental Journalist”, this Chain Gang obviously have lot to learn.

  11. Laura
    Laura says:

    I think simplifying the direction the cyclist was riding in would go a long way in increasing the level of clarity to the reader.

    I’m pretty good when it comes to direction and even I had to stop and think about what was actually meant about the cyclist riding southbound in the east lane of traffic. It would be easy enough to say the cyclist was riding against traffic going southbound in the northbound lane.

    Also, give some sort of landmark instead of or along with the location of the 3100 block. Was it just south of Pine Loch, Holden, etc. I live in this area and I can’t tell you how far south it is on Orange. The average reader goes by landmarks, not blocks or north/south/east/west directions. Leave that for the police report.

  12. andrewp
    andrewp says:

    LOL!!! 🙂

    Surprised that didn’t make it into the story somehow …… but that’s a great example of what Keri was concerned about with “editorializing” with ignorance or bias ……

Comments are closed.