Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Carnage

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.
Crucial details, such as driver speed, are omitted by the Daily News, whose team of reporters focus 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 It's a dehumanizing epithet that reflects an outdated mindset.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.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Eric the Relic: In Blaming Dead Pedestrians, Adams Seizes Long-Discredited and Hateful Messaging

It's a time-honored car culture tactic: If you can’t or won’t protect pedestrians, make them take the rap.

July 25, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: ‘We’ll See You in Court, Gov.’ Edition

Today's the day that City Comptroller Brad Lander and his team of legal eagles will start the fight to save congestion pricing!

July 25, 2024

Hochul Must Put Up or Shut Up on Congestion Pricing, New Senate Transportation Chair Says

Gov. Hochul must produce a "100-day plan" to replace the $16.5 billion MTA funding shortfall created by her decision to cancel congestion pricing.

July 24, 2024

DOT Begins Safety Upgrades for Atlantic Av. But Locals Want More

Some changes are coming for Atlantic, but they're not enough, say street safety advocates.

July 24, 2024

MTA Contractor Scrambles to Refund Fake Charges After OMNY ‘Upgrade’ Goes Awry

Cubic is working to issue refunds to riders improperly charged thanks to the glitch, a spokesman said.

July 24, 2024
See all posts