Sunday, February 21, 2010

Advertiser’s Front Page Resembles a Puffy Shirt; Like Seinfeld’s Garment, Stories Are All Puffed Up

Elaine (to Jerry): “You’re all puffed up! You look like the Count of Monte Cristo!” (Seinfeld episode, 9/23/93)
We usually fill this space with commentary on which rail technology is best for Honolulu, ongoing discussions on costs, reliability, safety, etc. But today the focus is on two remarkably weak “puffed up” stories in today’s Honolulu Advertiser.

Their above-the-fold headlines shout skepticism about the project: Rail falls further behind schedule (that’s the main story) and Planned transit hubs luring few investors.

Read these stories and see if you reach our conclusion – that they amount to a whole lot of empty space. For example, the investment story is explained in one 24-word paragraph that quotes City Councilman Nestor Garcia:
“It’s just too early. Once (groundbreaking) occurs then you might see action after that,” he said. “Local people are like that – seeing is believing.”
That pretty much says it all. The other story on construction delays quotes Council chairman Todd Apo with this “de-puffing” observation:
“Overall, the project is not starting as soon as we would have liked, but this does not show that there is a problem with the project itself. The FTA has already committed $1.55 billion to it. They have a draft of the EIS and they consider it a good project.”
Circumstances beyond the city’s control have delayed the project, and that's that. So what’s with this “view with alarm” style of journalism in the Advertiser’s news hole? The paper’s editorial page seems to be on an entirely different track, as seen in a February 4th editorial that lauded the FTA’s commitment.

Rail coverage by Honolulu’s two newspapers reminds us once again why it’s important to be a two-newspaper city. One continues to splash rail stories that have remarkably little heft to them, while the other seems content to report on the process without contributing hysteria.


Anonymous said...

Where exactly is the news in the Advertiser's article title "Honolulu rail-transit schedule slips again"?

The paper reported on Jan. 27 that the rail project is delayed by federal review. Today's article just rehashes that.

What kind of journalism is this?

Anonymous said...

The Advertiser article states -

"The projected schedule for rail transit posted at indicates that groundbreaking and start of construction are now expected late this year."

Yet I am not able to find anything on honolulutransit that says late 2010, just 2010. Am I missing something or is the Advertiser misreporting?