Media bias is a problem

If a journalist doesn’t understand roadway laws, their “objective reporting” can be shockingly biased.  This thoroughly documented and studied problem is particularly bad in accident reporting.  Here are examples of needless bias:

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Gazette Times CAR VS Bike Dec 5, 2013: 9:45 p.m., Northwest 11th Street and Buchanan Avenue. Bicyclist Merissa Schneider-Coppolino, 21, of Corvallis, was transported to the hospital for treatment of a cut on her forehead after she collided with a vehicle driven by Christina Sinclair, 40, of Corvallis. Sinclair stopped at the stop sign at Buchanan and began to proceed north on 11th Street when the collision occurred. Schneider-Coppolino was not wearing a bike light, which is required by law. No citations were issued, according to the report, because of factors related to each party contributed to the crash.

Although the police feel that both parties were responsible, the writer chose to go into detail about how legal the car was and how illegal the cyclist was.  Based on this writeup, knowing that the bike lane is a few feet from the stop sign, it’s hard to agree that the motorist came to a complete stop yet still hit the cyclist with enough force to send her to the hospital.

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Reader contribution:

Gazette Times POLICE LOG Nov 22, 2013:  CLOSE CALL 1:04 p.m., Northeast Circle Boulevard and Four Acres Place. A bicyclist either fell or was somehow knocked over and sucked under a trailer, pinning her underneath. The bicyclist had begun pulling forward on a green light in the bike lane on Circle Boulevard, and a pickup pulling an enclosed trailer beside the bike began turning from the right turn lane into the Kmart shopping area when the incident occurred. The bicyclist fell between the truck and trailer before being dragged forward by the trailer and caught under its wheel. The bicyclist, 62-year-old Maureen Beezhold of Corvallis, suffered bruising and soreness but no broken bones or major injuries. The pickup driver, 37-year-old Travis Michael Oefelein, of Philomath, was shook up but uninjured. No citations were issued, the officer reported, because it was unclear how the crash occurred.

–  Why won’t the journalist honestly state that the cyclist was run over?  He instead uses bizarre passive phrases like “fell or or was somehow knocked over and sucked under a trailer” and “fell between the truck and trailer”.
–  The journalist refuses to imply fault on the driver in any way, going as far as the ridiculous depiction of the trailer sucking things in.  Even at high speeds, bicycles (or other items) don’t get sucked under vehicles, and this was a low speed event of a vehicle turning into a parking lot.
–  The label “close call” downplays the horrific situation of hitting and dragging a human being.  It was in no way a “close call”.  It was a harrowing experience and a major collision.
–  The mental and physical condition of the driver (the perpetrator) is reported as if he’s a victim.  Of course he’s uninjured.
–  It’s unfortunate the officer was unclear about the situation, because the law is clear that cyclists always have the right-of-way in bike lanes.  CROW recognizes this as the #1 cause of car/bike collisions: motorist failure to yield when turning.

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If you have media stories of interest to add here, email it to corvallisrightofway@gmail.com.

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