Apologies For Poor Photo Choice Exercised In IDT Article

Part of our job here as we incorporate The Conglomerist into the fold of Haberdasher Communications (tagline: let’s keep it under our hat, shall we?) is to clean up some of the ethical missteps taken by The Consumerist, particularly with regards to its notoriously corrupt photo selection department. Dipping into the mailbag, Marc writes:

An avid reader of your website, I was a little bit concerned by the choice of picture to illustrate the “IDT Energy Scamming Spreads Past New York City” story.

Granted, the picture shows an IDT building in the background, but in the foreground are catenary wires, which are quite distinctive from power distribution wires…

Catenary wires are used to deliver electric power to trains and thus are designed to very narrow specifications (after all, they have to be able to be touched by trains moving as fast as 120 miles per hour).

The unfortunate effect of your picture is to imply that IDT powers trains, which is most definitely not the case, as railroad electrifications has often used “nonstandard” voltages (like 11,000 volts at 25 hertz in some places of the Northeast Corridor), and thus had to maintain their own distinct power generating plants and distribution networks (just google for “Cos Cob power plant”); the use of “commercial” (standard) power on railroads has been only a recent development made possible by the development of high-power solid-state electronics (think of super-duper-duper-duper-duper transistors, I mean one to whom your whole house power input is just an

You’re quite correct, Marc. The first thing that any reader would think when reading that article is that IDT is somehow involved in the production, powering or sale of catenary train wires. Text on blogs mainly serves as window-dressing for the photos and so irregardless of the fact that the following body copy made no mention of trains or catenary wires or solid-state electronics, a reader, combining the picture with the headline, might be left with the impression that trains were a disreputable source of transportation. This unfairly maligned the embattled railroad industry, and probably resulted in a loss of business for train operators nationwide. The Conglomerist regrets the error.


Edit Your Comment

  1. whatdoyoucare says:

    Haberdasher Communications= priceless

  2. B says:

    Didn’t you know that so-called “Public” transportation (like trains) is paid for by the government, and therefore un-american? Also, they have trains in many foreign countries, like France? I say we should boycott all trains.

  3. Beerad says:

    Now THIS is funny.

  4. The OP in this article is, as always, correct. How dare a site with such integrity put a photo on a story without making sure it is related. I mean, what next, putting a picture of a store that people cant immediately identify as their local branch of a national chain?

  5. nequam says:


  6. Nice Newark Penn Station shot. Did you know IDT wanted to put a giant Jumbo-tron on the side of the old Mutual building so they could show commercials, etc?

  7. accordionhero says:

    snark with the unwitting use of fake words (irregardless) = failure.

  8. DrGirlfriend says:

    The word “irregardless” drives me batty. BATTY I TELL YOU.

  9. GC says:

    The Conglomerist takes this issue very seriously, and is working hard to rectify it as soon as possible.

  10. B says:

    “The Conglomerist regrets the error.”
    But are they taking it seriously?

  11. Verdigris says:

    That guy sure loves him some trains.

  12. rmz says:

    Did that guy seriously take the time to write an e-mail about that?


  13. accordionhero says:

    @DrGirlfriend: “irregardless” and “supposably” i guess are somewhat understandable. what really pisses me off are the dumbasses (half of the web it seems) who can’t understand the difference between “lose” and “loose” – i swear to god i’ve seen comments that directly quote clauses from the article/post that include the word “lose” spelled correctly, and they STILL convert it to “loose”. read a f-ing book or something.


  14. GuJiaXian says:

    April 1st joke article or no, you said “irregardless.” Part of my inner editor just shriveled and died.

  15. HannerHearse says:

    What, has Denton ordered an upping of the useless snark on
    Consumerist too? This is the only Gawker site I still read. Stick to
    the consumer advocacy.

  16. Rachacha says:

    I am very disappointed in you. While you state that you regret the error, nowhere in your “official statement” did you state that you are taking in seriously.

    Over the past 11 months since the original story was published, I have boycotted taking electric powered trains because of the photograph that was posted and not wanting to support IDT.

    As a result of this error, I have been walking every where (who can afford the gas), and have had to purchase 5 new pairs of shoes as I keep wearing the soles out, and I am out at least $30 as I buy very expensive shoes from K-mart.

    I demand an immediate apology and $100 Million and a $5 Best Buy Gift Card to compensate me for the shoes and for pain and anguish while I boycotted the train because of your error. I am sure that others were also confused by this error.

    I have already contacted Raelynn Campbell [consumerist.com] , Roy Pearson [blog.washingtonpost.com] and Kyla Ebbert [consumerist.com] as they were likely confused by this photo as well. I was unable to reach Ms. Campbell via E-mail, and Mr. Pearson was unable to meet with me as he could not find his pants. Ms Ebbert states that while boycotting electric trains and walking to her “Legs in the Air” photo shoot [consumerist.com] her skirt rode up allowing a group of people to canch a glimpse of her “granny panties”. “Being seen in public in these [granny panties] was very embarrassing and it could ruin my career” says Ms. Ebbert “I can only flash my junk while going commando…this is the only way to advance my career.”

    I am further posting this really long and rambling complaint on the consumer advocacy site http://www.consumerist.com just cause I can :-p

    Patiently awaiting your response (and my free TV from Verizon)

  17. Johnie says:

    Rachacha, I hope Consumerists fixes the mistake and compensates you for it. It is unacceptable for a corporation to treat a consumer this way.

    If the standard customer service route doesn’t work, you may want to try an executive email carpet bomb. Hopefully, that will get some attention on your issue.

    If not, I would start a “Consumerist-sucks” blog and contact someone in your local media.

    This is unacceptable that a corporation such as Consumerists treat us in this manner! On the next “vs” poll, I am going to vote Consumerist worst than RIAA!

  18. trujunglist says:

    I too was confused by the picture in this article. Not only did I automagically assume that IDT delivered power to the railroads in the area, I was also under the impression that, due to the color of the power lines, T-Mobile had bought out IDT and is now providing railroad AND cell phone service in a unique and affordable package! I looked on the IDT website but couldn’t find any cell phone packages, so maybe they just haven’t updated it yet.

  19. stillkarenann says:

    You’ve posted (give or take) 7 articles today.
    EVERY ONE has used “irregardless”. Yes, I checked every one. I had to. I consider that one of the meanest 4/1 pranks evar.

  20. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Dear Chad Steelgate.

    John Mayer here. I for one am outraged that your establishment would, even unwillingly, decieve the american public in this manner.

    As you are probably aware, I (John Mayer) am a big fan of the environment, and also really happen to like trains.

    I’ll shut up now.



  21. polyeaster says:

    Just don’t care…

  22. ChadSteelgate says:

    @accordionhero: Irregardless is a real word.

  23. Lindie says:

    I like this, I like this very much. Thankyou Chad.

  24. accordionhero says:

    @ChadSteelgate: i suppose if you want to count a word that was included in the dictionary because too many idiots couldn’t figure out that it isn’t real – yes, you’re right.