WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC ran a piece yesterday on Uber and Lyft safety concerns. Employing a hidden camera (I think), the journalist or journalists took five rides around town–and came up with no dirt or scandals!
There’s an oblique (and unattributed) reference to three guys who had criminal backgrounds and were driving for Uber in Chicago and San Francisco (see this NBC Chicago story from April). But what set out to be a piece of gotcha journalism turns into pretty good PR for Lyft and Uber. See for yourself here.
I actually think the reporter, Jenna Deery, does an admirable job of explaining how the real-time rideshare apps work. And let me say that producing a three-minute television segment, possibly all by yourself, is extremely difficult, as I learned while I was a student in backpack video journalism at the Poynter Institute.
I’m fairly certain that the drivers in this news segment were not aware they were being filmed and recorded (hence the terrible audio and camera angles). So drivers everywhere should be aware that their next ride could be a reporter with an axe to grind.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan of investigative journalism, and I think safety is of paramount importance for Uber, Lyft, and the entire ridesharing industry. But I think the notion that Uber and Lyft are attracting criminals and predators is pretty silly, and it’s probably being fueled by the traditional taxi industry, which certainly has its share of rogue drivers.
I’d expect to see more quick-hit pieces like this in the cities where Uber and Lyft start gaining traction. What would be more useful is an analysis of just how many Uber and Lyft drivers have been in accidents and committed crimes. It’s a topic I’d like to delve into further on RideshareTips.com.