I jumped in with both feet

Dr. Cline, professor of journalism and author of Carbon Trace, once suggested that we have to proactively give the media the story we want told. Or something like that. It’s in the comments of some old post and I’m too lazy to look for it. But I remembered the gist.

With all the recent press coverage about cycling (following HB971), I’ve become increasingly depressed at the negativity and misinformation. So, a little over a week ago, in a moment of bravado… or something… I emailed Dan Tracy at the Sentinel and invited him to ride with me. I said, “I’d like to introduce you to how amazingly safe and easy it is to drive a bicycle on Orlando roads.” I explained that the popular notions of danger and hardship for cyclists are just plain wrong, and I could prove it.

This is the first time in my life I’ve ever contacted the media (in the past, reporters have contacted me). I didn’t even think about what might come of it. I was simply hoping to inject another perspective into the newsroom. I’m sure that by now, you’ve seen the results.

I’m grateful to Dan and the Sentinel for taking me up on my offer. I’m thrilled that Dan decided to attend a CyclingSavvy session and highlight the course in his article. I want to welcome the new visitors who have discovered us as a result of the article.

The video above [nolonger available] includes a few seconds of the video I shot. I quickly edited it for Red Huber to have some B-roll for his piece. Below are 2 complete segments that give a look at traffic patterns on Orange Ave. You can see the volume of traffic. And that the traffic lights keep us paced with cars for a while after they have passed us.

5 replies
  1. Eric
    Eric says:

    “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever contacted the media”

    You are allowed to do that. Sometimes they aren’t interested and they will tell you. Best to have some sort of “hook” set up before you contact them.

    Many of the most important issues never make it into the newspapers because they are either too complicated or too dry, so best to try to set things up as black or white — gray doesn’t work.

    Bet you don’t know what the largest contract the State lets? I know, but it never makes into the paper. I had a nice long conversation once about that humongous contract with a reporter and she couldn’t boil the issues down to 200-300 words, so it was a no-go. It got duked out in the Legislature and nobody knew nothin’.

    I’m glad you got Dan. I guess he has the “traffic beat” now in addition to a lot of other things. Chi-town is gutting our profitable paper to pay for their losers.

  2. acline
    acline says:

    Keri… Excellent! Yes, I think we must be proactive with the news media. And I do recall saying something like “take a reporting riding.” I believe a group of us were drinking beer at the time, so I am a bit fuzzy on the details 😉

    Reporters get into narrative ruts based on the idea (that I swear we don’t teach them in school) that there are “two sides to every story.” Consequently, there must be an antagonist and a protagonist. If reporters assign those roles in a way you don’t like, it takes a communicative effort to realign their thinking. It takes effort because the master narratives they create appear to be common sense. They appear to be the way the world is.

    There’s nothing nefarious about this. We all do it. Every human structures the world by creating narratives.

    There’s nothing like showing a reporter a different way of thinking about the world to begin the process of realigning their master narratives.

    But you have to keep it up. The struggle to define the world is always ongoing.

  3. Fred Oswald
    Fred Oswald says:

    Wow! Great story.

    That’s much better than I’ve been able to get in Cleveland. Either I get misquoted, purportedly saying radical things (like “bike lanes make me retch”) or we get a milquetoast article with a “list of rules”.

    And then there are 10 articles saying we need more bikelanes for every one that says otherwise.

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