Mike the Mad Biologist

Because I simply can’t handle any more Democratic clusterfucks or depressing thoughts about science funding, I want to vent my spleen on bad political reporting. Take this story about two tax-related ballot items in Oregon. One might think that a story about two proposed tax-related measures in a national paper (i.e., one that doesn’t follow Oregon politics) would actually explain what those two items were.

You would be wrong.

In fact, if you read the whole article (I don’t really recommend it), these are the only descriptions of the ballot measures:

On Tuesday, voters here and across Oregon will have the chance to make that happen when they decide the fate of two ballot measures that would raise taxes on higher-income residents and on businesses to help pay for public education and other services. Known as Measures 66 and 67, the votes are referendums on $727 million in tax and fee increases that were approved last year by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

And:

Supporters, led by teachers and public employees’ unions, point out that the income tax increase affects less than 3 percent of the population: individuals who earn more than $125,000 a year. They say the state’s wealthier residents should pay more to help those with less. They also say that state businesses enjoy a relatively low tax burden and that most small businesses will pay only $140 more in fees.

Nowhere does the article mention what these tax increases are. How much would individuals who earn over $125,000 annually pay? What does “most small businesses” mean? I’m (uncharacteristically) not trying to make a political or policy point; I really don’t know what these measures entail.

Fortunately, there is this thing called The Google I’ve heard about, which led me rapidly to the effects of these measures. So why didn’t the article mention at least some of the information there? It’s not that complicated (#66 is particularly straightforward)

And The Times wants to put this behind a paywall?

Comments

  1. #1 JohnV
    January 27, 2010

    Maybe once they charge for content it will allow them to improve the quality.

    HAHAHAHHA just kidding.

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    January 27, 2010

    You seem to be under the impression that it’s the job of the New York Times and the people they pay to write the articles to inform the readers. Sadly, that’s not the case. Their job is to sell eyeballs to advertisers (whether the reader is looking at the print or online edition). Any transmission of actual information to the reader is an accidental byproduct of the process. The people who work for the paper know this, and too many think that they should minimize any such accidental transmission of information.

    And that’s why the paywall business model will fail. It might have worked 15 years ago when the New York Times still had a reputation. Now, people know there isn’t something special about their reporting, so they won’t pay for something that is typically no better than what is available for free on the web.

  3. #3 dhogaza
    January 27, 2010

    FWIW, both measures passed by healthy margins, despite heavy opposition by the majority of newspapers in the state, including the Oregonian.

    (maybe one beneficial side-effect of the decreasing newspaper readership is the lessened influence of their editorial election endorsements?)

  4. #4 BaldApe
    January 27, 2010

    See, the newspapers have to support the concept of “everybody knows.” You know, everybody knows Saddam has WMDs, everybody knows there’s no gravity in space, everybody knows taxes are bad….

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