Shallow reporting |

Shallow reporting

Dear Editor:

The Dec. 5 issue of the Aspen Daily News reports that the city of Aspen’s expanded paid parking program is probably a complete bust, but readers should be forgiven if they didn’t quite read it that way.

The need for the local media to put a happy face on anything the city does regarding transportation is so deeply ingrained it isn’t even clear if they notice they’re doing it. Still, praising the new system for its ability to identify parking “scofflaws” (by providing a method to “efficiently and effectively” run a license plate) is a bit like applauding carpet bombing for its ability to kill crab grass.

Prior to the institution of the new parking scheme, the (March 18, 2008) Aspen Daily News reported that, “Tim Ware and Colin Laird, a consultant hired to analyze parking options, told the council that up to 1,000 drivers per day do the two-hour shuffle” in residential areas with free parking.

In Monday’s article we learn that “About 3,482 tickets have been issued so far this year for vehicles over their time limit in residential zones.” If slightly more than 10 drivers per day are currently being ticketed for doing the “two-hour shuffle,” and assuming city staff and consultants had a clue what they were talking about in 2008, more than 900 drivers per day would need to have changed their parking habits.

If that is the case, where is the evidence?

Also from the Aspen Daily News (Feb. 2, 2009): “New revenue generated by expanded paid parking is estimated at $550,000 per year, according to a consultant’s study that the city commissioned before passing the new policy.” The actual revenue generated by the system was not reported in the latest article.

Need we ask why?

Moving right along, in the same 2009 ADN article: “Blankenship, of RFTA, said he expects his buses will be able to handle whatever spike in ridership results from the new parking policies.” Wouldn’t the occasion of the review of new parking regulations be a good time to review the current state of RFTA ridership, especially along those routes that might have been most affected by changes in parking policy?

I’m a private citizen. I don’t get paid to do this. And yet, in simply scanning an article, I know enough to be incredulous at news reporting that is this shallow. Is it possible that the ADN was just provided this information in a manner somewhat like a press release, and put it out as an actual news story? Or am I giving them too much credit, and it really was just a press release from the city?

Although I have surpassed the 400 words that the Aspen Daily News allows contributors to their letters column (apparently in fear of competition for relevant content) I trust the reader will be able to find these comments somewhere.

Jeffrey Evans


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