NYT: American Graffiti RIP?
After thirty-two years in the media, I know how this works. You take a popular, generally negative story like, say, rising gas prices. You think of a likely trend within the story: the effects of $4 a gallon gas on teenage cruising. Must be down, right? Makes sense, yes? So you find people who can validate the central thesis: teens, teens' parents, cops. You weave the tale with plenty of anecdotes and call it good. In fact, there's only one thing missing from this otherwise boilerplate New York Times feature: facts. "From coast to coast, American teenagers appear to be driving less this summer. Police officers who keep watch on weekend cruising zones say fewer youths are spending their time driving around in circles, with more of them hanging out in parking lots, malls or movie theaters." Note the word "appear." And the reliance on an unspecified number of police officers. To be fair– not always a NYT hallmark– The Grey Lady mentions the possibility that the dearth/death of cruising might have something to do with… something else. "To be sure, the number of teenage drivers nationwide was already on a downturn over the past decade, a trend fueled by tighter state laws governing the hours when teenagers can drive, higher insurance costs and a move away from school-sponsored driver’s education programs to more expensive private driving academies." To be sure, we expect better reporting from America's newspaper of record.