Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to take advantage of #BadMedia (Houston Ecomentalist Edition)

Last week I touched on some poor reporting by Chron Transportation reporter Dug Begley surrounding a ruling for a temporary injunction in Wisconsin that didn't do exactly what transit activists were suggesting.  This fact hasn't stopped Houston Tomorrow from doubling down on the mis-characterization of the ruling, and even going one step further and using the lazy reporting as a mask for credibility by appealing to the authority of a story they, quite obviously, fed to Houston's former newspaper of record.

Federal judge says sprawl, transit, must factor in to highway building decisions. Matt Dietrichson, Houston Tomorrow

A Wisconsin court ruling may require planners across the country to publicly consider the effects on sprawl and transit before approving highway expansions, according to The Houston Chronicle:

Never mind that the ruling, in no way, states what they are suggesting (a fact that was clearly established by reading the request for a temporary injunction). The real problem here is that Houston Tomorrow is using the implied authority of the Chronicle in a story where they provided much of the opinion themselves. 

Wisconsin court ruling could mean Houston thinks more about transit, Dug Begley,

“It feels like it is almost the sky is the limit for our team on these kinds of issues to stop wasteful highway building and increase transit,” said Jay Blazek Crossley, program development and research director with Houston Tomorrow, an urban planning nonprofit.


Crossley said past decisions in the Houston region — building the Grand Parkway and Texas 288, widening U.S. 290 — were made with the full knowledge they would benefit future users and open up more land for development. The Wisconsin ruling, if it stands, helps ensure that planners have to explicitly study the effects of sprawl in a wider capacity than they do now, and have that discussion publicly.
“I think what the judge is talking about is meaningful public input,” Crossley said.

In fact, other than the snippet from the Natural Resources Defense council ALL of the "expert opinion" offered up in Begley's story comes from: Jay Blazek Crosby, Head of program development and research for......Houston Tomorrow.

So basically, Houston Tomorrow (and several other transit activists) displayed a stunning lack of knowledge about the trial process, were able to convince a reporter (who was either lazy or also possessed the same lack of knowledge about the legal process) to run a story touting the "ruling" as a potential game changer based SOLELY on their opinion, without bothering to include a dissenting opinion, and then touted that same story as being objective proof their opinions are correct.

Cozy relationship isn't it?

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