12 February 2009

To MSM, which need a lesson

... on how to parse their own articles and political spin contained therein.

To wit, I present the following for the examiner's attention (bolding mine):

Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom, or the government employees who write letters to the editor on his behalf, took exception to a recent opinion column that said a B.C. energy "gold rush" has been underway as companies applied for river and wind rights.

The minister took offense at such a purportedly outrageous claim.

"Despite the claims of a 'gold rush' in new independent power projects, only 46 such projects are in operation; almost half were started under the previous NDP government," Lekstrom complained.

After which, the Times Colonist perceives a gotcha! moment.

A few days later, his government sent out a news release on a ceremony to recognize exceptional work by government employees. Among those honoured were "the independent power project transition team."

"The team was brought together in response to a phenomenal increase over five years of 1,140 per cent in independent power project applications," the release said. "Without a corresponding increase in resources, agency staff looked for new ways to do business. They came up with an integrated and co-ordinated inter-agency approach to application management."

And now the paper's master stroke in the form of two questions which, apparently, are of urgent import:

What is the difference between a "gold rush" and a "phenomenal increase?"

Er, very little?

When does political spin end and outright misinformation begin?

To which I respond with two questions of my own:
  1. What is the difference between an application for the rights to do X and an operation which in fact does X?
  2. When does a major newspaper recognize its own spin and misinformation? Or is it that Minister Lekstrom pulled one over on you?

(OK, that's three questions.)

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