Moving on: It’s no secret that reporters doing the requisite man-on-the-spot take on a news event typically search for the most colorful and outrageous quotes to represent the “mood on the street.” In the first days of Strike 2005, New Yorkers did not disappoint. The award for finding the most hysterical (and we don’t mean funny) New Yorker-on-the-street utterance goes to the Associated Press’s David Caruso, who quotes one Maria Negron pronouncing the strike “a form of terrorism.” The Daily News, too, found a New Yorker willing to make a similar comparison — one William Welles, who “called the strike ‘citywide blackmail terrorism’,” a turn of phrase which the News deemed headline-worthy.


Depending on which paper you read, you learn today that the strike spawned a wave of city-wide camaraderie — or not. While the Times’ Alan Feuer found in a “usually standoffish city” “an instant fellowship” among strangers sharing rides into Manhattan, the Daily News’ Helen Kennedy reports that in fact “there was little of the camaraderie and spirit that was so evident after the Sept. 11 terror attacks or the blackout of 2003.” (Kennedy later contradicts herself, writing that “of course, there was a lot of good cheer around as well … as New Yorkers’ natural enjoyment of the new and different came to the fore.”)


This was not the only source of confusion in the coverage. There are also conflicting reports today on this most critical of questions: Did or did not New Yorkers wear sneakers as they hoofed it to work? According to the Times’ Feuer, “sneakers were a mainstay of the commute.” Adds the Christian Science Monitor’s Alexandra Marks today: “They came by foot — most in sneakers; by cab — often quadrupled up; by bike — bundled against the cold; and by train — with standing room only into Manhattan. On the first day of the first major transit strike in 25 years, most New Yorkers made it to work.”


And so what to make of the Washington Post’s Michelle Garcia and Christopher Lee, who today report that “millions of erstwhile straphangers waged their daily commute on foot, in-line skates, bicycles and motor scooters — but rarely in anything as unfashionable as sneakers”?


Never fear, tomorrow is Thursday, and the Times’ Thursday Styles section will no doubt provide the definitive report on strike-inspired sartorial staples.

But wait! It seems as though Newsday and the Daily News beat the Times to it. In a story headlined, “Strike a Pose! Did Style Survive the Cold?” readers are warned by “style experts” that “this is no time to slack” — because the world is watching New York and, says one expert, “you could wind up on TV.”


What about those sneakers? Reports Newsday’s Ann Givens: “Everyone’s favorite fashion faux pas — bulky white sneakers with business suits — started during the last transit strike in 1980, when thousands of business women grew weary of walking miles to work in their pumps.”


In other words: sneakers are so Strike 1980.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.