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.