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Media Watch

Got a Drivers License and a Gripe? NYC Reporters Want to Hear From You

12:44 PM EDT on April 13, 2011

If you want to get the attention of the New York news media, the formula apparently goes something like so. Step one: turn a personal pet peeve into a matter of public record by filing a baseless lawsuit. Step two: watch reporters beat a path to your door.

Take one Jack McCloy, a motorist who was ticketed for running a red light at a camera-enforced intersection in Queens. According to McCloy, yellow lights in the city and Nassau County are too short, are purposefully timed to fatten municipal coffers at the expense of entrapped drivers, and are unsafe to boot.

As Fox 5 reporter Andrea Day points out, the timing of traffic lights is regulated by state and federal guidelines, and it's pretty well established by now that red light cameras save lives and reduce injuries. Yet rather than pay a $50 fine, McCloy wants traffic signals re-calibrated to his satisfaction, and has filed a suit to that end in New York State Supreme Court. "Unless somebody stands up for what they believe is right," McCloy says, "it's going to just perpetuate itself."

Fox at least gives some airtime to a Nassau County official who insists that the local traffic camera program is intended to influence behavior -- i.e. force drivers to obey the law -- but the piece is clearly meant to be a David and Goliath story, Average Joe taking on The Man.

So, one driver with a petty grievance and time to kill: worthy of making his case on television. Hundreds of families turning out to support a street safety project that the New York City press corps otherwise can't stop talking about? Nothing to see here.

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