Star Tribune readers: literarily challenged?


What else is there to do after a major bridge collapses in a metropolitan area due to heavy weight and a poorly designed gusset plate killing 13? Obviously, blame the sun, for you know, doing what the sun does, setting.

OK, so that's not exactly what StarTribune journalist Jim Foti wrote in his Nov. 17 piece: "Did the sun play a part when the bridge fell." But, it's certainly how the readers took it.

The newspaper's website erupted with comments critical of the coverage, prompting one reader to write: "Not metal eating termites either."

Another, asked: "Why does the Star Trib have to publish ridiculous theories? Metal fatigue and inadequate design. That's it."

Then, there is our favorite penned by johnwinger11: "Carol Molnau: So it wasn't my fault."

It seems like readers don't want any coverage of the fallen 35W bridge unless it mentions Pawlenty, the administration, or Molnau, says Foti disparagingly.


Foti just wanted to answer the question: Why didn't the bridge fall promptly at 3 o'clock when it lifted its heaviest load? The sun theory, first presented by the firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner, offers an explanation.

During the daytime heat, the bridge's steel expanded and was strengthen by "archlike forces pushing upward," Foti writes. But when the sun set and the steel cooled, the arch "relaxed" increasing stress on the plate.

"No I didn't say the sun caused the bridge to collapse, that is not what the story said," the transportation reporter rants over the phone. "This is, as is often the case, some reading comprehension challenges among our commenters."