Little White Lie “Biggest Since 1989”

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August 24, 2014 by JImbo

“Massive” San Francisco Quake “worst since 1989”

I’m going to copy this in case they try to change (edit) it later:

“CNN reported that the quake, the strongest to hit the Bay Area since 1989, was felt by roughly one million people.”

Remember that. And ALL the TV channels seem to be saying that along with many websites.

Now… I’m just old enough to remember the 1994 Northridge quake.

(It was that little rumbler that came after the LA Riots in 1992. And those put the minor disturbances in Ferguson, MO to shame. See what it’s like being old? You remember this stuff!)

Remember this one? (Wikipedia, but with references)

The Northridge earthquake occurred on January 17, 1994, at 04:31 a.m. Pacific Standard Time and was centered in Reseda, a neighborhood in the north-central San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. It had a duration of approximately 10–20 seconds.[3] The earthquake had a “strong” moment magnitude (Mw) of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was one of the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America,[4] measuring 1.8g (16.7 m/s2)[5] with strong ground motion felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada, about 220 miles (360 km) from the epicenter. The peak ground velocity in this earthquake at the Rinaldi Receiving station was 183 cm/s[6] (4.09 mph or 6.59 km/h), the fastest peak ground velocity ever recorded. In addition, two 6.0 Mw aftershocks occurred, the first about one minute after the initial event and the second approximately 11 hours later, the strongest of several thousand aftershocks in all.[7] The death toll was 57, with more than 5,000 injured. In addition, earthquake-caused property damage was estimated to be more than $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.[8]


  1. USGS
  2. Yegian, M.K.; Ghahraman; Gazetas, G.; Dakoulas, P.; Makris, N. (April 1995). “The Northridge Earthquake of 1994: Ground Motions and Geotechnical Aspects”. Third International Conference on Recent Advances in Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics. Northeastern University College of Engineering. p. 1384. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  3. USGS Response to an Urban Earthquake — Northridge ‘94
  4. Northridge Earthquake Southern California Earthquake Data Center. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  5. USGS Earthquake Information for 1994 “Significant Earthquakes of the World 1994”
  6. ShakeMap Scientific Background
  7. Douglas Dreger. “The Large Aftershocks of the Northridge Earthquake and their Relationship to Mainshock Slip and Fault Zone Complexity”. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  8. “Northridge Earthquake”. 2005. Retrieved 2013-12-11.

That would seem to be much larger, with more death and destruction. I seem to remember highway overpasses collapsing on dozens of cars  and apartment buildings blowing up. There were huge cracks in the street and people homeless all over. It was CHAOS.

So by what measure is this the “biggest since 1989?”

Granted, that one in 1989 was also large.

San Francisco–Oakland earthquake of 1989, also called Loma Prieta earthquake,  major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area, California, U.S., on October 17, 1989. The strongest earthquake to hit the area since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, it caused more than 60 deaths, thousands of injuries, and widespread property damage.

(That one’s from the Encyclopedia Britannica so how’s that for a source?)

However, that’s still NOT much larger than 1994 and it’s simply NOT factually correct. The 1989 was a 6.9, compared to 6.7 in 1994 and it didn’t have the speed/lateral stress rates that the 1989 one did. So, it could be argued they were both about equally destructive.

Why make shit up like that?

Who are they fooling? Are people just swallowing this stuff without checking?

I bet they are. I just wonder about motive. Is it simple incompetence? (Inability to even Google it at the newsroom?) Sensationalism? Selective memory?

I know it seems like a minor point, but the truth is the truth. If your job as NEWS people is to tell the FACTS, then get it right!

Although I did quit studying Journalism in college after being told by a professor: “It’s not about FACTS. It’s about being an ADVOCATE.What are you trying to MAKE PEOPLE DO?!?”

Well, I didn’t want people to DO anything but THINK FOR THEMSELVES. I thought the news was about telling what happened and letting people figure it out for themselves.

Boy was I naive.



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