Genii Weblog

100,000? 250,000? 400,000? Can't we just count?

Mon 30 Aug 2004, 07:31 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Reports about the large march in New York contain the same quaint estimates of crowd numbers that they did in the 1960's.  The marchers estimate there were four hundred thousand, the police estimate two hundred fifty thousand, and the New York Times estimates one hundred thousand.  The biggest change is that the police usually way undercount these marches.

What boggles the mind is why we have these wild estimates.  Technology should have rendered all of this obsolete.  With satellite images and high speed computers, it should be fairly easy to count fairly accurately.  I have seen news shows do this for nonpolitical events, so why do we retreat back to wild guesstimates when the event is political?

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

205.1. mark
(08/30/2004 10:32 AM)

your answer is in the last four words of your post.

205.2. Christopher Byrne
(08/30/2004 02:04 PM)

Marchers: Want To Sound Bigger and More Important than they really are

Police: Want to Pump up Numbers to Justify More Overtime, but not make it too big that they do not get caught in their own largesse

NY Times: is committed to printing true, accurate, fit to print, non-stolen, non-fabricated stories.

205.3. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/30/2004 02:24 PM)

It seems the police are the accurate ones here (they now say 250-300 thousand). They appear to be using technology that they need for other uses. While I agree that the marchers always tend to overestimate, I am somewhat mystified by the NYT, which you would assume would either have their own source or use the police source, but wouldn't normally be off by so much. CNN seems to agree with police, or report what the marchers think, but doesn't really have any independent guess. NBC refers to "tens of thousands" of protestors, but does not clarify.