Thursday, January 12, 2012

Trash Talk and Letter to Journal

Yesterday, a cyclist died in Albuquerque after being hit by a car at an intersection. My letter below was in response to one of those typical ugly, flame-baiting comments you are used to seeing. I got a prompt response to the letter below, saying the Journal Management would check its posts. I sent a thank you back to Mr Walz for his quick response and concern.

Further note. The offending comment was removed.

For more on the story:

UPDATED: Driver May Have Run Red Light, Hit Bicyclist


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Kent Walz
Editor in Chief, The Albuquerque Journal

Dear Mr. Walz

Good day, sir. As a subscriber to your newspaper, I support your efforts with my checkbook. As a longtime cyclist, cycling instructor, member of my county transportation advisory board, and cycling advocate, I support safe and responsible cycling. I would like to continue to support both cycling and your newspaper.

Yesterday, a 55 year old bicyclist, Scott Lane, died as a result of injuries he sustained during a crash with an automobile in Albuquerque. We don't yet know why the crash happened. I checked the story online this morning to see if there were any updates, and instead am greeted with a single comment, to the effect that the cyclist deserved his fate because he was on the road, where he did not belong.

I can't imagine what Mr. Lane's friends or family, not to mention fellow cyclists, think when they see such trash talk, and I really don't know what value such uncivil discourse brings to the Journal or the community. So if the Journal cannot better manage the content of comments sent to it on the Web so they reflect what I consider responsible discussion, I will not renew my subscription. It does me no good to be physically sickened by reading such comments, and to restrain myself from responding in kind.

I have long supported print journalism with my dollar. At one time, having something published in a newspaper meant it had to have reasonable rhetorical quality. Sadly, getting a comment rather than a letter into the newspaper's online version these days seems to be driven more by shock value that generates web hits rather than by thoughtful conversation among citizens.

Again, I think Scott Lane deserves better than to be told he deserved his fate simply because he rode his bike on the public roads, and all without any meaningful reason why such would be true.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day,

Khal Spencer
1799 Camino Uva
Los Alamos, NM 87544

Scott's obit is here
palmares to Steven YVee for the link