Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow-News Season Prompts Old-News Story

Today’s front-page story in the Advertiser plows the same ground as so many similar stories in the paper that one can’t help but conclude the reporter and perhaps some editors are waging their own war in the news columns.

Start with the headline: “Honolulu officials faulted for rejecting ground-level trains” Who’s doing the faulting? The man who wrote a report supporting at-grade transit, that’s who. Is this surprising? Is this news?

His report has been thoroughly debated and dissected already, yet here comes another story of dubious value dredging up his discredited recommendation. The Advertiser splashed this one-man plan on its front page back on September 13, and shooting holes in it was like picking off ducks in a barrel.

Please refer to the map the paper published that day showing the six turns of close to 90 degrees or more the proposed at-grade route would make around the Civic Center. The very idea that this could possibly represent a rapid-transit alternative is ludicrous.

Where's the News?

All of which makes a reportorial agenda seem plausible. You just don’t manufacture stories based on a flimsy premise that at-grade transit hasn’t been studied since a Walmart and other buildings were constructed along the route. Building a medical school or high rises doesn’t do a thing to change the fundamental weakness of this plan: It’s slow!

Build any part of Honolulu rail at ground level and you don’t have rapid transit. Build it 30 above ground and you do. And when those many new high rises planned for Kakaako are up in the air 300 feet or so, you won’t even see the guideway.

This blogger once reported for the Advertiser when it was under the editorship of George Chaplin, who did not condone news-hole bias by his reporters. Unfortunately, this particular reporter seems determined to continue his style of covering rail, and supporters of the City's transit plan must be prepared for more of the same.

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