Some folks might think that the point of a newspaper is to provide information to readers. Those people have nothing to do with reporting at the Washington Post. That is why, in an article on unexpected state budget surpluses, the paper told readers that capital gains taxes from the initial public offerings of Facebook and Twitter generated $3 billion in unexpected revenue for California, that Florida's legislature is voting on a $400 million tax cut, and Idaho is projecting an $80 million surplus.

These are all very cute numbers which probably mean almost nothing to 99 percent of Washington Post readers. If the paper was actually trying to inform readers it might have told them that the money from Facebook and Twitter amounts to approximately 3 percent of the state's revenue for a year. It could have told readers that Florida's proposed tax cut comes to a bit more than $20 per person and that Idaho's projected surplus is equal to just under 3.0 percent of its budget.

While most Post readers understand percentages and can relate to to a per person dollar amount, it is unlikely that many are familiar with the size of these states budgets or economies offhand. They could take two minutes to look this information up on the web, but most readers will have less time for this task than the Washington Post's reporter. In fairness, the piece did point out that a proposal to use $4.6 billion to fund pre-kindergarten programs would take up about 3 percent of the state's overall budget. (The higher level of implied spending presumably includes money other than what appears in the general budget.)

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