Tuesday, August 22, 2006

We step into the Dwight Jaynes Twilight Zone of Irreality--and feel the spin

We are a critical lot here at LO. We see it as part of our role to scrutinize the local media. And we're not ones for holding back either.

I have what some consider an overdeveloped sense of fairness and justice. So if I criticize a journalist or a writer, I generally send them an email with a link to my piece offering them a chance to explain or rebut on the blog. Especially if its a writer who I think probably doesn't darken our doorstep on a regular basis.

Hence I dropped an email yesterday morning to Tribune sports columnist and Executive Editor Dwight Jaynes. I wrote what I consider to be a minor trip to the woodshed against a Jaynes piece from last week.

Little did I know that this email would burgeon into a 40+ mail exchange. I was sucked into the Dwight Jaynes Twilight Zone of Irreality (yeah--I made that word up) and it was not pretty.

It began with me politely letting Jaynes know I had written about his piece with the requisite link to LO.

What I received in return was a snarky response from Jaynes:

yeah -- on SOME days portland has a little congestion! we're in the top 10 in the country! funny stuff -- comedy central is calling!

I replied, making light of the Comedy Central line:

Relative to other places (LA, New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego Las Vegas) Portland is pretty mild--and as the article I cited notes, Portland has the lowest car use growth in the US.

I think you were looking for an excuse to be pissy about the city because of the Blazers..and ignored stuff that's right in front of your face that's contrary to what you were saying.

Portland is making efforts to improve using mass transit that appears to be working.



PS. I won't quit my day job for Comedy Central if you won't.

Jaynes then accused me of "drinking the Kool-Aid" and that I should notice that Portland is "gridlocked".

I responded that I was relying on various studies and articles to form my opinion.

So next, Jaynes ripped off another email to me citing this(PDF) 1999 Surface Transportation Policy Project study, ranking Portland at #8 in the nation for worst rush hour traffic congestion.

1999? I was a bit surprised that a journalist would be relying on a 7 year old study. Especially when more current articles and studies are readily available.

TJ jumped into the fray, noting an even more more recent study, as well as the PDX Metro Transit System report with the media noting a decrease in average daily commute time by car.

Jaynes then informed me that I was missing the point. He's not upset at "mass transit". Just MAX, trolleys and bikes. Buses are supposed to be mass transit, not the rest of that stuff, according to Dwight. I'm still drinking the "Kool-Aid", he says.


The whole thing then devolved to an even more bizarre place, with Jaynes accusing TJ of not knowing what the "downtown" area really is (even though he neglected to tell us what he thinks it is--except perhaps the area around the Transit Mall seems to count). But we know what Jaynes thinks it isn't: the Pearl District and South Waterfront. Which seems to run contrary to everyone else thinks downtown is.

This was really a whacky set of responses from a guy who is supposed to be the Executive Editor of a newspaper trying to make its mark in the Rose City. He uses lame excuses and outdated material to slam the city. And then barks that the City itself (and those who work and use it) don't know shit about it because clearly we're just not smart and cosmopolitan enough.