By Don Irvine | November 25, 2010
The media has become obsessed with the number of TSA pat-down stories and in at least one case are now asking that travelers send them their screening experiences in hopes of getting that next big horror story.
This is from an e-mail that I received from PBS Newshour
Tweet Your Thanksgiving Travel TSA
Check Security Line Wait Times Using New iPhone App
Many travelers will have their first taste of the TSA’s new stricter security measures this week as the busy holiday travel season begins. With some passengers-rights groups urging people to opt out of security scanners on the day before Thanksgiving for more time-consuming pat-down screenings, the PBS NewsHour wants to know about your airport security experience.
Starting on Wednesday, tweet @NewsHour the time it took you to get through security — from the time you got in line until the time you put your shoes back on — and we might include your tweets in a future blog post and round-up of how the new security measures and some passengers’ resistance are playing out.
Here’s how to participate via Twitter:
* Include the hashtag #TSATime in your tweet.
* Be as specific as possible (Example: @NewsHour It took me 52 min. at #DCA at 9 am because I opted out of full-body scanner for #patdown. #TSATime)
* Include the three-letter code for the airport where you were screened (Example: #LAX, #CMH, #MIA).
And don’t hesitate to provide more details or anecdotes about your experience as space permits. Quotes and observations are welcome. But make sure to keep the language clean and follow the rules at your airport.
If you’re traveling through a major U.S. airport, you can check how long other passengers report it is taking to get though security checkpoints. The information will also be available through the NewsHour’s free iPhone app and as an embeddable widget.
Click here for more information and an embed code: bit.ly/TSATime
Questions? Send us a tweet or an e-mail. Safe travels, everyone!
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We have already been subjected to numerous stories and video of passengers who have been subjected to the new TSA pat-down procedure for reasons that are often baffling to say the least. And the outrage has also spawned a new round of somewhat voyeuristic videos from people who seem to be more interested in stripping down to their skivvies and creating a scene rather than out of any concern about the new procedures.
But do we really need videos of women wearing lingerie or bikini’s or men in speedo’s (spare me please) at security checkpoints? No, but the media is playing along and PBS’ Newshour isn’t helping the public gain an unbiased view by asking for screening experiences. They don’t want to hear from you if you sailed through without a hitch, they want another story of a TSA agent patting down a small screaming child or a veteran with artificial joints being subjected to an embarrassing and invasive search.
Once again the notion of fair and accurate reporting has gone out the window in the name of pursuing the sensationalistic headline grabbing stories no matter what the facts may be. There is so much me-too journalism on this story that it is like a television show that has jumped the shark which portends it’s eventual demise. That’s what’s happened here with the coverage going so far over the top that it is now impossible to return to the story’s salient points and separate fact from fiction.
The TSA certainly isn’t blameless but like most government agencies they are terrible when it comes to public relations. As a result of not having an effective p.r. strategy they have let the media get away with focusing on a few horror stories and whip up more anger and anxiety from the flying public whose nerves are already frayed by high air fares , crowded planes and a laundry list of rules unevenly enforced about what is and isn’t permissible on a flight.
After having flown over a million miles in the last 20 years I have seen the changes in security first hand and while I’m no fan of the current procedures I consider it part of the price I have to pay for the convenience of flying.
I even went through the full body scanner this summer and frankly it was just another blip on my radar.
The bottom line is that no one is forcing us to fly. If you don’t want an x-ray scan or pat-down then take a car, bus or train and the attendant inconveniences of doing so and quit complaining.