Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From the Editor: Are the media finally understanding us? (June 2011)

Written by 

By William C. Vantuono, Editor

 

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Something encouraging seems to be happening out there in the media—the non-trade media, I mean. The railway industry is getting more and more attention, and it has nothing to do with grade crossing collisions or hazmat moving through your backyard. It has to do with the important business of moving goods and people in the most efficient way ever devised.

FOX Business News weekday 1:00 p.m. anchor Lori Rothman, an accomplished journalist who spent a decade at Bloomberg before joining FOX, “gets it.” Following an excellent “American Icon Series” special report on Union Pacific in which FOX reporter Dagen McDowell spent a day at UP’s Omaha headquarters talking with CEO Jim Young and other senior executives, Rothman (pictured)—a Metro-North daily rider—offered me her views on “why the railway industry has become so important to the news media.” What she had to say is nothing new to us, but that it came from someone so prominent in the general news media is, well, encouraging:

“While the railroad industry may have a reputation for being old-fashioned, it actually remains one of the most important contributors to the U.S. economy.

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“What’s more, every rail job supports another 4.5 jobs somewhere in the economy, from suppliers, manufacturing, retail, and services. Railroads make huge capital expenditure contributions to the economy. Major freight railroads have projected capital expenditures of $12 billion in 2011. They are a great gauge of the health of the broader economy. In fact, Wall Street investors look at the Dow Transports Index as a leading indicator for the direction of the stock market. Often during a downturn, an uptick in the Index will signal a turnaround for the broader markets.”

Again, this is nothing new—to us. If it were me talking, you’d probably say, “Thanks for making the obvious less obscure. Now please tell me something I don’t already know.” But it wasn’t me. It was Lori Rothman. Thanks, Lori, for doing your part to educate the general public—something railroaders really need to do more of.

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William Vantuono

With Railway Age since 1992, Bill Vantuono has broadened and deepened the magazine's coverage of the technological revolution that is so swiftly changing the industry. He has also strengthened Railway Age's leadership position in industry affairs with the conferences he conducts on operating passenger trains on freight railroads and communications-based train control.