Don't any of you guys know about the specialized voice recognition software that the media uses?  Say you give a 10-word answer to a reporter's question.  The program than generates all 10-factorial word combinations and runs them through what cynics might call the Sensationalism Index.

More seriously, don't waste time worrying about "careful explanations" to reporters (unless it's going out live).  Like you, reporters have a chain of command to answer to.  Refer them to whichever Census field office you never deal with and enjoy your "day off" from the media's glare.

Sam Granato
Ohio DOT, Office of Technical Services
1980 W. Broad Street, Columbus, OH  43223
Phone:  614-644-6796, Fax:  614-752-8646
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."  Anais Nin

"Alan E. Pisarski" <>
Sent by:

05/31/02 11:48 AM

        To:        "Tom Reinauer" <>, "Chuck Purvis" <>, <>
        Subject:        Re: [CTPP] USA Today article on drive alone commute (long post)

Chuck:  re your questions:  I noticed the 90 boo boo (I AM ASTONISHED AT THE
MADE IT UP)  When I cited these data to Larry Dahms - he considered it a
moral victory if 2000 shares stayed at 90 levels.
No I wasn't the source re the carpooling citation.
Yes I'll bet that Michigan especially Detroit will "win" the SOV sweepstakes
I always ask reporters where they get these anecdotal commuters from.  There
must be a secret file somewhere of the longest commuters, etc. It all comes
from reporting 101 where they tell them to  make it a human interest story.
In the case of Haya El Nasser, who is a very competent analyst,  she was led
to this story instead of the standard national trends story by the many
anecdotal responses she got describing the positives of commuting solo.  I
get it also from people on talk shows - but what a sample is people who call
in to talk shows, or listen to them - or talk on them - like me. A lot of it
these days is NPR talk shows. AEP

----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Reinauer <>
To: Chuck Purvis <>; <>
Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 9:05 AM
Subject: Re: [CTPP] USA Today article on drive alone commute (long post)

> The mistake on the 1990 figure for the San Fran metro area I consider a
> minor problem compared to one-sided stories (depending on the intent of a
> particular article) or the misinterpretation and/or misunderstanding of
> data.
> Wait until local and national newspapers start delving into more detailed
> statistics.  I suspect that even with careful explanation from planners,
> will often be twisted and hardly helpful.
> Content because my baseball team is 35-15.
> Tom Reinauer, Transportation Director
> Southern Maine RPC
> 21 Bradeen St.   Suite 304
> Springvale, ME 04083
> (207)324-2952
> FAX  -2958
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Chuck Purvis" <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Thursday, May 30, 2002 7:21 PM
> Subject: [CTPP] USA Today article on drive alone commute (long post)
> > TO: CTPP-News
> >
> > Here's the link to today's USA Today article on driving alone in
> Of course, the Census Bureau hasn't yet released data for nine states and
> Puerto Rico (which are due out next week.) My bet is that Michigan (data
> yet released) is still the #1 state in terms of drive alone share of total
> commute!
> >
> >
> >
> > By the way, my old web site has 1990 data on state-level commute-to-work
> shares, at:
> >
> >
> >
> > and, more specifically:
> >
> >
> >
> > Reading this USA Today article reminds me of a book that I just read - -
> "Damn Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians
> and Activists" by Joel Best, UC Press, 2001. Recommended reading.
> for critical thinking about the statistics that media and others use.
> >
> > Which brings me to my point about lies and statistics in the USA Today
> article. I'll try to be brief.
> >
> > 1. USA Today states that the drive alone commute share in the San
> Francisco metro area declined from 73 percent in 1990 to 68 percent in
> The 2000 figure is accurate at 68.0 percent. On the other hand, our 1990
> drive alone commute share was 68.2 percent. So, our overall drive alone
> commute share declined from 68.2 percent to 68.0 percent. (This is nice,
> not "wow"!)
> >
> > 2. USA Today claims that "Many transportation officials, planners and
> environmentalists have concluded that carpooling lanes don't help reduce
> traffic." Well, this is pretty shaky journalism. Like, who or what's the
> source of this information? Alan, is this from you? You're cited in the
> paragraph!
> >
> > I will agree that the USA Today article is entertaining, though the
> blending of factual information with anecdotal commutes is getting to be
> tiring.
> >
> > Some more quips and quotes from the USA Today article:
> >
> > 1. "Forty minutes in the car may be the equivalent of the bubble bath"
> > 2. "There is more to life than quality time in your car, no matter how
> great your sound system is"
> > 3. "The car is often the last refuge of smokers....California law
> prohibits all smoking in workplaces, including offices, stores and
> restaurants." (Note that California prohibits smoking in bars, as well.
> However, we do allow you to smoke inside your own home, even in your own
> bubble bath!)
> > 4. "Consumers of audio books listen to them on average 4.4 hours a week
> their cars, compared with 1.1 hours on mass transit, according to the
> Publishers Association." (Gotta wonder who's answering these surveys!)
> >
> > On the plus side, the USA Today's graphics are pretty darned good.
> >
> > Chuck Purvis
> > Cranky Because My Baseball Team is 24-27.
> >
> > ***********************************************
> > Charles L. Purvis, AICP
> > Senior Transportation Planner/Analyst
> > Metropolitan Transportation Commission
> > 101 Eighth Street
> > Oakland, CA 94607-4700
> > (510) 464-7731 (office)
> > (510) 464-7848 (fax)
> > www:
> > Census WWW:

> > ***********************************************