Far be it for me to criticize a Ledger article, but what were they thinking with the piece headlined Proposed Rail Facility Is ‘In the Middle of Nowhere? You might have missed it since it ran in the East Polk news section of the paper. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The gist of the article is that the proposed CSX rail facility is in the “middle of the middle of nowhere.” Now, I’m quoting the reporter, Rick Rousos. You can tell I am quoting, since I put quote marks around the text. Rousos says he is quoting newcomers who allegedly have said “This is the middle of nowhere.” Now, really, who has visited the site? Reporters, CSX officials, and their supporters? I’ve been there, but not on CSX company property. In the photo we see three people. Was it one of them? If not, then who said the site is in “the middle of nowhere”? If he heard it himself, then why not identify the person? If not, then who told him it was said?
That’s important, because this is almost a puff piece. There is really nothing new reported, and some statements are misleading. It seems it exists only to give the impression that the facility is located away from civilization. Which, it most assuredly is not.
Take a look at the graphic that accompanies the story. I’ve placed the graphic on a map. You’ll see the Ledger graphic places 655 slightly west of its true location, plus only the first 318 acre section of the CSX project is shown. Why not an outline showing the full 1250 acres?.
When you visualize this project remember that the first piece is about the size of Lake Hollingsworth. The full build out would fit in Lake Parker with some room to spare. A two mile long train? That’s a train that would start at South Florida and Lime Street and end at South Florida and Edgewood Drive.
As far as people living near the facility? Well, we hear a lot about the Sundance community. It is true. They are just across the tracks. However, there are other close roads and communities. Ridgeview Road is about 2000 feet away. That’s less than 1/5 of the length of one of those two-mile long trains. I am sure the good people of Wahneta don’t find the facility in the “middle of the middle of nowhere.” (I’m quoting Rousos.)
I could go on: Crystal Lake is about 3000 feet away. Plus, I’m sure people living in those “Terranova” homes don’t feel like they’re in the middle of nowhere.
With photos it is sometimes as much what you don’t show as what you do. What about the picture in the article? Nice work with perspective. Let that road lead your eye away to infinity. How about to the right? Can we see a picture there? What about showing where they’re standing on that overhead graphic?
In news you can get away with saying almost anything — as long as you can find someone else to say it. Then you report it as “news.” We don’t know who Rousos is quoting that the project is in the middle of nowhere. However, he did at least remind us that “The company has said 8,500 jobs will be generated by the facility.” I once said I would play for the Chicago White Sox. That doesn’t make it a fact.
Now, this isn’t the first time this particular reporter reminded us of the company line. In that linked story CSX admitted that their original projection of 200 CSX jobs was wrong. Now CSX claims it is about 110 and 55 of those are most likely to be taken by transferring employees. But they’re still sticking by that old 8500 chestnut.
Why doesn’t the Ledger find an independent firm to make a wild guess how many real jobs will be created years after this mythical full build-out? That’s the way to check claims..
While Rousos wrote the article, and is responsible for the items I mentioned, I don’t believe he has an agenda or that he is a poor journalist. Take a look at something else he wrote for Saturday’s paper, Driver Recalls Harrowing Hour Pinned in Truck