LA Times' quirky quake story generator strikes again

There was a tiny earthquake under Long Beach Monday afternoon. "A micro-quake," is how the Southern California Seismic Network dismissed the 2.7-magnitude jiggler. Luckily, the Los Angeles Times story-writing quake robot was all over it. The geography-challenged but click-hungry Times gave the quakelet the same full-headline treatment as a news-making quake, of course. The geographical coordinates used by the Times are where it gets weird: "one mile from Rossmoor, two miles from Hawaiian Gardens, three miles from Signal Hill and 347 miles from Phoenix. Emphasis added, because Phoenix? Always nice to know where our mini-quakes are in relation to the biggest city in Arizona. No mention at all of Long Beach.

The SoCal Seismic Network has a more local and relevant version of the location — and a more journalistic perspective to the size of its marker. Which is odd, because last I looked, it doesn't employ 400-something journalists.

Distance from:
Signal Hill, CA - 5 km (3 miles) E
Long Beach, CA - 5 km (3 miles) ENE
Cypress, CA - 6 km (4 miles) WSW
Los Angeles Civic Center, CA 31 km (19 miles) SSE

(Three miles east of Signal Hill and three miles from central Long Beach is...still Long Beach.)

The Times' map below is on the left — its epicenter marker kinda suggests the quake swallowed up Long Beach (while omitting any actual mention of Long Beach.) The auto-generated map from the quake network is somehow better and more accurate — and it actually names Long Beach.


I don't know. The Times might be better served having an unpaid intern supervise what the auto-story generator generates before this sort of news-like product gets posted on the LAT's news blog. Might give up a few clicks, and have less to brag about at NICAR conventions, but there would be less eye-rolling by the Times readers I hear from.

Previously on LA Observed:
LA Times automated quake news leads to non-stories like this

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