Sunday, October 28, 2007

Things Editors Should Catch So Readers Don't Have To

What’s Political Party Got To Do With It?
ATLANTA (AP) – [...] With water levels at all-time lows, Georgia has taken more steps to conserve water in recent weeks. Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered public water utilities this week in north Georgia to cut water withdrawals by 10 percent [...]. The Republican also declared a state of emergency in north Georgia and asked the federal government to release less water downstream.

Perdue acted in his capacity as governor, not as a party member.

Editors: Please Save Reporters From Themselves

A story about tourism taxes says the bed-tax is charged “anywhere people visiting Florida stay for six months or less a year.”[sic]

Wrong. The story and a nearby cutline report 10 Florida counties, including two local ones, don’t charge bed taxes, no matter how short the stay. Thus, the tax is not, being charged "anywhere people" visit. Also wrong, because the badly garbled last clause should read “stay for less than six months.”

Carefree gulf beaches [...]

Since when do beaches have cares that some can become carefree?

The cutline says:

Right: All but 10 Florida counties tax accommodations – condos, motels and hotel rooms and short-term rentals – to fund special projects and tourism development.

The unnamed woman is neither a condo, motel, hotel room, nor a short-term rental, that we know of.

“The Florida Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Relations says DeSoto had some $138,133 in unrealized tourist tax revenue. [...] At 2 percent, Rawls’ referendum could generate around $98,000 in revenue for DeSoto.”

The reporter fails to explain the period the legislative committee report applies to, creating a disjunction with the next sentence about the county.

Rawls want tourist tax dollars in DeSoto to [...] Provide a marketable brand name that fits with DeSoto’s personality, while meshing DeSoto’s hitherto “clustered” tourism efforts with county funding.

What is a clustered tourism effort and how can something so abstract be meshed with county funding? The reporter is mouthing a source’s jargon without much skepticism, analysis, or willingness to ask what the source means.

There are genuine fears that without representation in the right regional arenas that typically exclude areas with low populations, transportation plans and state infrastructure dollars could bypass leaders in Hardee, DeSoto, and
Highland counties if they don’t speak up.

Where are the fears described as there? Why are they genuine? What’s the right arena? Why would leaders be bypassed? Speaking up isn’t the criteria for participation; having enough people to meet population-based entry requirements is.

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