The Most Obvious News Story In The World

by Conor Friedersdorf

Over at USA Today, they're sounding very serious:

The nation's vast network of more than 3,200 stations and more than 20,000 miles of track combined with the impracticality and cost of screening every passenger leave U.S. subways and rails exposed to the type of terrorist attacks 22 other nations have experienced the last five years.

Having a secure network ultimately is the responsibility of the TSA, which is in the Department of Homeland Security. While the agency has imposed stringent screening of air passengers at the nation's 450 commercial airports, it says it has no similar plans for rail passengers.

The TSA has largely left rail security to local governments, which USA TODAY finds often don't have the capability and money to make systems secure.

Next you'll tell me our public schools, bridges, supermarkets and movie theaters are also vulnerable! This is newspaper journalism at its worst: obvious information dressed up like a news story, complete with sentences like "security analysts say screening all subway and rail passengers is impractical and too costly."

Did you need a "security expert" to tell you that?

"Mass transit systems are much less secure than the aviation sector or certain key government buildings," says Clark Kent Ervin, the Department of Homeland Security's former inspector general.

And they'll likely remain that way, USA TODAY has found in its examination of rail security, which included an analysis of the National Counterterrorism Center's incident database and interviews with Congress, federal security officials, transit authorities, rail operators, independent security experts and passengers.

Is this really the best use the newspaper's editors can find for its investigative reporters? We've already got television to dumb down the news.