Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rodger Jones Accused of Bigotry

Patrick Kennedy, urban planner and opponent of urban freeways, has accused Rodger Jones, editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News, of bigotry in his reporting on a public hearing on the Trinity floodplain toll road.

Bigotry? Even Kennedy knows that's a strong charge. I might have said one-sided, lacking balance, maybe even biased. But bigotry? That's such a loaded word.

After the jump, a sampling of Jones's work that riled Kennedy, and, oh yeah, a Richardson connection.

Transpo people have said for years that congestion cannot be relieved without more roadway "capacity" of the equivalent of six new lanes where the freeways all converge in central Dallas.
Source: Walkable DFW.

That's the line by Rodger Jones that set Kennedy off. Jones presents this as fact, not as highly contested opinion. Kennedy sets the record straight by presenting a list of eleven studies by "transpo people" who not only don't say what Jones asserts they do, but say the opposite, that added capacity doesn't reduce highway congestion.

Kennedy goes on to contest many other things Jones writes about the Trinity floodplain toll road and the context that Jones omits, all of which slant the reporting in favor of building the floodplain toll road. Is Kennedy going too far in questioning Jones's journalistic integrity? Maybe so. But Jones's accounts are maddeningly one-sided. Go ahead and read Kennedy's full response. It's not often you hear inflammatory analogies like this (except in the comments, I mean):

What if I wrote, "Rodger Jones likes little boys," if I had seen you holding hands with what very well might be your son (if you have one. I don't know). Maybe not. It's accurate... to an extent. But, hey. I'm not the journalist. I guess context was sent packing with the last round of layoffs.
Source: Walkable DFW.

If you've read Patrick Kennedy long enough, you know this is atypical. He can be pompous and verbose, but he seldom makes it personal. His frustration level with Rodger Jones reached the boiling point. If Jones doesn't understand why, he's either not paying attention to or deliberately ignoring the whole of Kennedy's work. That's what causes many of us readers to be frustrated with the News's coverage, too. Another News's journalist, Michael Lindenberger, is loudly calling, "Put up or shut up, please: Send your best alternative to the toll road." He acts as if no one has ever offered alternatives. Kennedy has done that repeatedly. Jones and Lindenberger and the News ought to explain why their alternative is better than Kennedy's own recommendations. Either put up or shut up themselves. In any case, quit pretending that there's no alternative to building a toll road in a floodplain.

OK, what's the Richardson connection? Well, Rodger Jones lives in Richardson. I long ago gave up hoping for objectivity from him about his chronic complaints about the lack of a sidewalk alongside Central Expressway to the PGBT and Galatyn DART stations. He refuses to even acknowledge that, for many people, the paved trail through the Spring Creek Nature Area is not only a perfectly fine alternative, but in fact is preferred to walking alongside a freeway. An example of Jones's criticisms of Richardson's DART stations is reported here: Rodger Jones Knows What Women Think.

Ironically, Richardson received more accurate information from former News's journalist Ian McCann, who doesn't live in Richardson, than it ever has from current News's journalist Rodger Jones, who does. McCann is no longer with the News. Jones is. Read into that what you will.


Mark Steger said...

Patrick Kennedy is doubling down: "I'm a Transportation Expert."

Mark Steger said...

Rodger Jones doubles down on me: "Walk with me to the DART station, or die trying."

Before my own blood pressure rises, I think I'll take a nice walk on the trail through the Spring Creek Nature Area, all the way to the Galatyn DART station. How refreshing.