Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Is This Objective Reporting?

Check out this lede from a San Jose Mercury News article on the recent legislative pay increase:

SACRAMENTO - The state budget continues to bleed red ink and public approval ratings of legislators are anemic. Still, on Monday lawmakers were handed something they could take to the bank: on Dec. 5 their paychecks will be 12 percent fatter.
Wow. Way to set the tone. Three grafs down the article does present a valid reason for the raise, but after that intro, who cares?

John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League and chairman of the California Citizen's Compensation Commission, said that if his panel continued ``to deny fair compensation, we're going to further exacerbate'' the difficulty ``of attracting quality people'' for office.
And then:

The commission was set up in 1990 partly to insulate lawmakers from the political risk of raising their own pay. If history is any guide, however, legislators will still be assailed for obtaining a six-figure salary. California legislators also receive a tax-free payment of $138 for each day the Legislature is in session as well as other benefits.

Even before the commission's Monday's vote, the basic pay of a California legislator was the highest in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New York comes in second with $79,650.
Okay, so after the writer conditions the reader's eyebrows to raise in the lede, then the writer points out that legislators will be assialed for their new salaries? Haven't we sort of done that already? And, as discussed in previous comments, there's that nugget on our members being the best paid in the nation - with no mention of the fact that, duh, it costs a lot to live here, they're full-time, etc.

Note also the use of "Instead" under the subhead "Not all get raises."

To close the piece, the reporter chooses the following juxtaposition:

While lawmakers cautiously welcomed the action, it continued to meet objections in the governor's office.

``Obviously, this is the wrong time to be giving more money to politicians.'' said Vince Sollitto, a deputy press secretary for the governor. ``California continues to face tremendous fiscal challenges that have forced the state to forgo investments in many important areas,'' he added.
Talking Points: 1; Reporting: 0.

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