Media Fail?

Recently there was an accident on the NJ Transit into Hoboken Terminal.  The media has been all over this. Unfortunately the media doesn’t seem to have the skills in backgrounding that it once had.  Putting people in front of cameras, yes.  Getting the story, other than mindlessly repeating the same thing over and over, no.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Major-Train-Accident-in-Hoboken-Injuries-Reported-395249051.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/train-crashes-new-jersey-transit-hoboken-station-article-1.2811435

http://abcnews.go.com/US/nj-transit-train-crashes-hoboken-station-reports/story?id=42444695

http://www.fox5ny.com/news/208559883-story

Here’s some raw footage.

Now with fifteen minutes of Googling or so I was able to obtain some background. First of all some videos of the Hoboken Terminal.

Now here’s everything Wikipedia has on all the relevant topics about this accident.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push%E2%80%93pull_train

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_(railcar)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NJ_Transit_Rail_Operations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoboken_Terminal

https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7353415,-74.0319025,842m/data=!3m1!1e3

Now a lot of the discussion seems to surround the installation of Positive train control and the delay of the installation of same.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_train_control

Now the talk about the lack of PTC is, in this case more than a little of a red herring.  Lets start with another video.  This is a cab view of a NJ transit train running from Penn NYC and Newark Station.

All those whistles you hear is the ATC system alerting the engineer one speed restriction or another.  If the engineer doesn’t respond, the brakes are applied.  Now about Hoboken Terminal, well here’s an old press release from NJ transit.

http://www.njtransit.com/tm/tm_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=PressReleaseTo&PRESS_RELEASE_ID=468

It’s apparent that even if the PTC had not yet been installed, safety systems are not absent on NJ Transit trains.

Now instead of the inanity I’ve been hearing all day, a little editorial work would have produced something like this:
This morning there has been a an accident At the Hoboken NJ Terminal[add footage of NJ transit trains taken by intern and footage of Hoboken Terminal]

Damage has been extensive So far, first responders have said that there is one fatality and over 100 injured.

Operations at Hoboken Terminal for NJ Transit are  suspended indefinitely. PATH and Hoboken Light Rail services are suspended until a safety inspection.  Consult the NJ transit website for updates.[http://www.njtransit.com/hp/hp_servlet.srv?hdnPageAction=HomePageTo]

NJ transit trains use a “push pull” operation with the engine at one end and a cab car on the other.  The train running into Hoboken was running train forward into the station.  Eyewitnesses said that the train was entering the station at a high speed and failed to apply brakes.

That’s it. Just the facts and what people need to know.  You could fill in with more background as the day went on. But why the endless repeats and more to the point, the inability to build a story. Even a little background and sending people to get human interest stuff goes a long way when something like this happens.

Journalism seems to have lost the ability to be prepared anymore. It seem like the effort is spent so much on sending the right virtue signals and finding the next Watergate level story that the media has forgotten that it’s the small stuff that  pays the bills.  There are a bunch of stories here that the media will never see.  There’s the challenge of getting PTC implemented story, which is a huge effort.  There’s the daily commute story.  And the complex intricacies of getting a million people into the city on all the commuter rail systems into the city every day. I know a bunch of the people that make that happen and it’s disappointing that the greatest media city in the world can’t be bothered to get the story unless, like now, something goes wrong. Thereupon the media looks for heads to cut. The real story isn’t this accident, it’s the day to day hard work that keeps the entire system running almost invisibly day in and day out.  If the media is looking for a big story, well it’s there.

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4 comments

  1. John Van Stry · September 30, 2016

    I like how the body count -decreased- originally they said three dead. Now it’s just one. That tells me that someone was just making up the story at first.

    Like

    • jccarlton · September 30, 2016

      The media doesn’t handle the fog of a situation vary well and tends to jump the gun rather than collecting facts. The fatality wasn’t even on the train.

      Like

  2. penneyvanderbilt · September 30, 2016

    Reblogged this on PenneyVanderbilt.

    Like

  3. GP Cox · October 1, 2016

    Thank you. The media fails us in so many ways. They are only concerned with the shock and awe – it increases their ratings.

    Like

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