Denver Police Twitter survey results on photo radar stories: "Who cares?" finishes strong
Update: Yesterday, we told you about a Denver Police Department Twitter survey asking respondents to compare the fairness of photo-radar reports by Fox31 and 9News.
Earlier today, the DPD tweeted the results. The winner? Hard to say. But "Who cares?" did very, very well.
An initial tweet, on view below, shared links to an April 28 Fox31 news story on photo radar disliked by DPD Twitter overseer Lieutenant Matt Murray, a 9News report on the same topic he deemed much more even-handed, and a Survey Monkey page that asked: "Which news story does a better job of telling BOTH sides of the story." The options: KUSA Channel 9, Fox 31 or "Who cares? I hate photo radar!!!"
The results don't show the number of people who participated. Instead, it depicts the final tally in pie-chart fashion:
As you can see, 9News definitely topped Fox31. But the station appears to be in a dead heat with "Who cares?"
By the way, Heidi Hemmat, the reporter of the Fox31 package in question, declined to comment for this story, and the station's news director, Ed Kosowski, has not responded to an interview request. Read our earlier coverage below.
Original item, 11:19 a.m. October 5: Folks at the Denver Police Department are frustrated at what they perceive to be biased media coverage -- and they're using the DPD Twitter feed to do something about it. The department tweeted a survey about photo-radar coverage and a release criticizing reports about the Jason Graber case. And the DPD's Twitter point man hints that there'll be more tweets like them.
The first tweet was sent to the DPD's 5,400-plus Twitter followers last night. Here it is:
The initial link in this tweet connects to an April 28 report on Fox31 in which reporter Heidi Hemmat portrays photo radar as a revenue-generating scheme whose citations aren't valid unless they're presented to drivers by hand, rather than through the mail. That's followed by a link to a 9News story from October 3. In it, reporter Anastasiya Bolton characterizes the amount of revenue generated by photo radar as tiny compared to the overall budgets in Denver and Aurora. And finally, the third link takes surfers to a Survey Monkey page that asks: "Which news story does a better job of telling BOTH sides of the story." The options: KUSA Channel 9, Fox 31 or "Who cares? I hate photo radar!!!"
In the hope of being shown the total votes registered thus far, I selected the last option, because I recently received an $80 photo-radar ticket from an unmanned van parked in a construction zone on a lonely stretch of Santa Fe during a Saturday afternoon, when no construction personnel were present; I was going around 36 miles per hour in what suddenly became a 25 mph zone. Like most people, I paid the fine -- grudgingly -- because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of fighting it.
This selection required me to enter a comment. I wrote "comment." However, I was taken to a page that didn't feature a tally.
Then, a little over an hour ago, the DPD tweeted this:
"We're not trying to influence the story," Murray says. "But we are held responsible by the public, and so is the media. So we thought, we'll let the public decide."
The DPD plans to tweet the results of the survey tomorrow. But when it comes to his own feelings about which photo-radar story was more even-handed, Murray expresses frustration with Hemmat; we've left a message for her and will share her take in this space when and if she responds. "I attempted to reach out to her, and she basically told me to mind my own business," he maintains. "When you look at how many times she's done stories on photo radar, at what point does it become an ax to grind? And the numbers in the 9News story," which put the amount of revenue collected by photo radar in a larger context. "How did Heidi leave those out?
"There's clearly a disparity with these stories, in our mind," he continues. "But the purpose is to say to the public, 'Take a look.' And maybe some Fox viewers who've never watched 9News will be surprised."
The same idea is at play regarding the Graber document.
"Our press releases are getting a little more aggressive," he says, because the media's "constant theme is that the Denver Police Department is a brutal department -- and those words come right out of David Lane's mouth." (Attorney Lane represents Graber and a number of other individuals who've filed excessive-force complaints.) "And David Lane has a dog in this fight.
"The numbers show that 94.4 percent of Denver Police Department officers received no complaints last year. None. That means you're talking about only a little more than 5 percent who did. And we haven't had a lawsuit won against us in so long you can't believe it; just because they're settled doesn't mean they're won."
Murray believes such facts aren't getting out, "and that's not fair. We're tired of being painted with a broad brush." So he intends to send out more tweets referencing media coverage of the DPD, in an effort to give folks another point of view.
"I would encourage people to follow us," he adds. "We really want people to have an opportunity to see both sides, whether a reporter wants to tell it or not. And we don't have to be silent about this."
Look below to view the 9News and Fox31 photo-radar stories.
More from our News archive: "Excessive force complaints far fewer than commendations, says Denver Police spokesman."
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