Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just in case you didn't get the message

In today's Otago Daily Times, on page 31, there's a photo of the new clock in Mosgiel, with an accompanying article which tells us that the temperature part of the clock is overstating the actual temperature.  So the article starts like this:
A new $23,000 Mosgiel clock is 'overstaing' temperatures by up to 10degC, says Mosgiel Taieri Community Board chairman Bill Feather. 
Now that pretty much tells you the main point of the story.  But the reporter either has space to fill, or wants to make sure we (rather thick) readers get the point.  He continues:
Mr Feather said the new clock installed in Anzac Park in Mosgiel about a fortnight ago was displaying inaccurate temperatures. 
All right, I suppose that clarifies the 'overstating' in the first paragraph.  Somewhat.  Except that we have a repeat of the 'new clock', and of Mosgiel. The third paragraph says:
The new clock from Germany was 'overstating' temperatures, Mr Feather said. 
Ah, it's new clock.  And it's 'overstating temperatures'.  And it was Mr Feather who told us this.  Check back to the first paragraph.  Isn't this virtually the same information?   After this, things improve a little with some information as to why the clock is being inaccurate, but then in the third last paragraph we have this sentence.
Mosgiel Rotary Club president John Seddon said the German clock cost about $23,000.  
Wait a minute!  It's a German clock, and it cost about $23,000.  Didn't we already know this?  Yup, we did.
I understand that reporters are often under pressure to get stories in on time, and that subeditors are also under pressure.  But this story is basically a 'filler' in the back of the paper amongst one or two important pieces and some stuff that no one would miss; it could have waited another day or two and have been tidied up considerably.  In fact, we could possibly have had some more information about it. Its only saving grace at present is that it has a large photo in the middle of the page, so that there's some visual interest.
As it stands it doesn't give much credibility to the reporter's writing skills, or to the subeditor's editing. 

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