Daily News Ignores Driver’s Actions in Persecuting 70-Year-Old “Jaywalker”

The headline in today’s Daily News, “Jaywalker in critical condition after being struck by car in Midtown,” sets the tone for a particularly heinous example of tabloid victim-blaming.

According to the Post, the victim was Landal Hoilette, who was hit on W. 57th Street near 11th Avenue yesterday afternoon while on a lunch break from his job. But the Daily News does not identify Hoilette as a New Yorker, a pedestrian, or a senior. Instead, the story repeatedly refers to him as “the jaywalker.”

Crucial details, such as driver speed, are omitted by the Daily News, whose team of reporters focus on the actions of the injured pedestrian.
Crucial details, such as driver speed, are omitted by the Daily News, whose team of reporters focused instead on the actions of the injured pedestrian.

A 70-year-old man crossing a Manhattan street mid-block was hit by a car and critically wounded Wednesday afternoon, police said.

The victim was crossing 11th Ave. near W. 57th St. at 1:50 p.m. when he was hit by a four-door Nissan sedan that was heading south, cops said.

The jaywalker was rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he is listed in critical condition with head trauma, according to police.

“Jaywalker,” of course, is a term invented by the car lobby in the first half of the 20th century to apply to anyone who stood in the way of unfettered automobility — including children and the elderly. It’s a dehumanizing epithet that reflects an outdated mindset. It shifts blame away from motorists, who are mostly responsible for pedestrian-involved crashes, and it ignores the fact that, when you’re not in a car, following traffic rules can get you killed.

The tabloids did a decent job on the Kang Wong story, but they are generally terrible when it comes to day to day coverage of traffic crashes. Any mistake by the victim becomes the thrust of the story, while providing cover for the driver’s actions.

As is usually the case when the injured or dead can’t speak for themselves, the motorist’s version of events is the only account presented. How fast was the driver going? Was she distracted? How did she not see a 70-year-old man in the middle of the street? These crucial details are absent from the Daily News piece. The Post did a somewhat less horrible job, but offered zero information on the driver’s actions in a story headlined “CBS employee fighting for life after hit by car while jaywalking.”

The New York dailies should take a lesson from British papers like the Times of London, which treat traffic violence as a preventable public safety issue rather than reflexively blaming victims.

  • Mark Walker

    “Jaywalker” certainly is a “dehumanizing epithet.” I’ll put this question out there: Is it the moral or ethical equivalent of other dehumanizing epithets? In other words, is using it as bad as using the n-word? As bad as various terms that are degrading to women or gay people?

  • JoshNY

    No. Sorry, but that’s ridiculous.

  • Kevin Love

    Yes. The word was coined for the explicit purpose of insulting and dehumanizing people in order to get them out of the way of car drivers.

  • red_greenlight1

    Technically this guy wasn’t jaywalking he was crossing mid block which is an utterly stupid thing to do.

  • gneiss

    Nice empathy there red_greedligh1… I hope you plan on showing up at this man’s memorial and telling the family that he was “stupid” to their faces since you feel so strongly about it. Good going.

  • red_greenlight1

    Wow, way to draw conclusions that are simply aren’t supported by anything really.

    First off I won’t be saying anything at his funeral.
    Secondly to the best of my knowledge the guy is still alive. Thirdly I never called him stupid. I said the act of crossing mid block is stupid. Not that he is stupid. World of difference there gneiss.

    Oh and it should go with out say I’m empathetic to anyone who gets hurt.

  • chekpeds

    This article was beyond biased and insulting. No one mentions if the driver was on the cell phone or speeding.. This being said anyone that crosses outside the prescribed crossing should accept the consequences. The pity is that if you cross in the crossing with the light, there is a good chance you will be clipped as well. So the question is where should pedestrians cross safely? Right now it’s nowhere! If the answer is in the ped crossing with the light, how come drivers who kill pedestrians there are not punished?

  • zach

    “Woman in short skirt gets raped.”

    “Hoodie-wearing teen on dark street gets shot.”

    “Jaywalker gets killed.”

    Maybe we can just call all three victims ne’er-do-wells.

  • unknown

    I was there and he he walked from between a big truck an a van in front of her as she was going to the turning lane she hit him and he slammed into the truck next to him He shouldnt have walked through traffic but people should just be praying for this man now!!!!!

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