Hearne: Ridiculous Crowd Estimate Alert for Lawrence

ku_championship_parade_276_t460Ah, the joys of journalism…

I learned early in my foray into the journalism racket that precious few who call themselves “journalists” are to the manner born.

Television newsies are generally wannabe local celebrities who like the idea of acting important, being on camera, wearing nice duds and snagging a halfway decent paycheck. Few are truly knowledgeable and passionate about their work (you know, reporting) like KSHB’s Gary Lezak.

Print journalists in large part are nerds – writers not investigative types – in search of (and willing to settle for) far smaller paychecks just to have something to do. The last thing most want is to rock boats and challenge authority. With rare exception, it’s just not their nature.

So when some PR flack tells them that  more than 100,000 people – a number greater than the entire population of Lawrence, Kansas – crowded along Mass Avenue in Lawrence the last time the Jayhawks won it all, they “report” it as fact.

Even USA Today got swept up in the hype:

“Early police estimates of the crowd said well over 100,000 people lined the parade route, but Lawrence police later estimated the crowd at around 80,000.” USA Today reported. “Either number easily surpassed the estimated 40,000 that celebrated the 1988 championship.”

It didn’t take much to pop that PR balloon.

Not after I got on-the-record comments from Lawrence Police and other sources that no crowd counts whatsoever were conducted and that they had no idea how many people were in attendance.

Which brings us to the here and now…

img_home_homecoming_parade_jayhawk-676x270Wherein a Lawrence Journal World columnist named Joanna Hlavacek “reported” today that a local St. Paddy’s Day Parade was expected to draw 30,000 people downtown.

In doing so, Hlavacek made a critical journalistic mistake.

She reporting something as fact without verification or attribution.

Pretty silly, not to mention lazy as well.

The reason event organizers like to pump up and distort attendance figures:

Isn’t it obvious?

For starters it lends legitimacy and importance to whatever it is they’re doing – the cause or event in question. And secondly – more often than not – it enables them to solicit more funding.

So yeah, a minor league St. Patrick’s parade in tiny Lawrence, Kansas – pitted against Kansas City’s mega green day affair (that actually could approach the 30,000 mark) suddenly (allegedly) resembles a sold out Royals game.

Go figure!

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17 Responses to Hearne: Ridiculous Crowd Estimate Alert for Lawrence

  1. chuck says:

    Revelation 7:9

    “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne…”

    I blame the bible.

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  2. chuck says:


    Sorry, the bible did it again.

  3. Kerouac says:

    Speaking of fraud* on the field as upon the streets same, nod their < 500,000 version 'one million baseball man march', at last count ( heh heh) KC was still busy fabricating "hundreds of thousands" who defied probability to watch the royals* parade.

    Mathematical modelings, approximate expressions and educated estimates (aka lies, damn lies and statistics; growing exponentially/to be continued…)


  4. Just the Basic Facts says:

    In the end, just who really cares how many were there. Oh, I forgot, just guys like HC who have squandered their lives away and will resort to whatever while crapping on some else’s parade.

  5. KCMonarch says:

    For any major event you can take the total number of people who said they were there and divide by one hundted and that will get you pretty close to an accurate attendance figure.

    There are exceptions. Take Woodstock for example, the divisor goes up to one million.

    The point being, who cares? There were a crap ton of people there. Crowd counts are the least of our worries when it comes to inaccurate “reporting.”

  6. LanceTheIntern says:

    From my recollection (granted — we’re talking high school here), “to the manner born” is from Hamlet and was an allusion Hamlet made about being accustomed from birth to the practice of heavy drinking.

    So I took it for granted that pretty much every “journalist” I knew was to the manner born.

  7. Gangster = Politician says:

    Really? Is anyone surprised by this. Elected elite in this country have been fabricating stats for 3 decades and the very people complaining about “exaggerated crowds” hold fabricated politics as gospel.

  8. Fritz Kris says:

    Still plowing the same old crowd-numbers ground you did umpteen times at The Star, are you? What’s the latest on Mancow and your other chestnuts? .

  9. Mysterious J says:

    I am going to nominate Junior for a Pulitzer for his bulldog tenacity on the “bad crowd estimate” beat!

    • the dude says:

      He can lead the grassroots swell to change the bad crowd estimate!
      Viva la correcto counto!

      • Frank says:

        Maybe he can introduce the Hearne Principle on crowd estimates which states that if there are x number of people living in a given town, there cannot be x number + 1 or more people at a parade or similar crowd gathering in that town. He’s not the only one though who has tried to reason that a crowd estimate was wrong because the estimate was larger than the town’s population. I know Hearne is a diva, but he might have to share the principle with the others who have used this reasoning as well

  10. harley the manificent says:

    and all you losers give a sh*t about hearnes figures.
    what’s next? the ground hog day parade in peculiar?

  11. The Word says:

    Sort of related.

    But I have to congratulate the Big 12 on another epic fail in the tournament again.

    This is without a doubt, the biggest style of substance conference in the NCAA.

    All of those great regular season games on national TV just to bomb and trip all over yourself in the tournament. In football it’s even worst. All those 50 to 48 point games, then in bowl season they get blown out against teams that..you know…play defense.

    But I forgot, BYU, New Mexico, Memphis or Cincinnati are going to save this conference from going the way of the SWC.

  12. Hot Carl says:

    Nothing gets Hearne more riled up than an inaccurate crowd count.

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