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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Burying the lead

One of the sins you are taught to guard against in Journalism 101 is burying your lead, putting important facts in the wrong place. Herald editors editors should not expect a good grade today.

Here's the lead of today's Casey Ross story on executive branch spending:
Gov.Deval Patrick has hiked his office payroll by $1.1 million since taking charge, a 33 percent jump over what former Gov. Mitt Romney paid his staff in 2006, a Herald review found, even as a top House lawmaker now warns of deep cuts to key state services.
Here's the last paragraph:
Part of Patrick’s payroll growth from 2006 is due to the fact that neither Romney nor former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey accepted salaries because of their substantial personal wealth. That accounts for about $265,000 of the increase, with Patrick taking a salary of $140,000 and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray earning about $125,000 a year.
Let's see: $265,000 out of $1.1 million comes from the governor and lieutenant governor taking salaries that the predecessors rejected. That, by my back of the envelope calculation, is roughly 25 percent of the increase. And leaves $835,000 to go for what the Herald said is a quadrupling of the governor's staff.

And it would be helpful to tell us what quadrupling means: is it going from one to four or 50 to 200? Who are the members of the $100,000 club are and what they do for their paycheck -- how many hours do they work and are they are in state more than the former Republican governor and his wandering staff. It's all in your database, why not share it -- or are you looking for clicks?

And while we're at it -- that is a quadrupling over Romney's 2006 staff, a point where the administration had already hung out the "gone campaignin'" sign. How does it compare to 2003, the first year of the term when the former governor led people to believe he cared about his job?

There may very well be a case to be made for too many highly paid staffers. But it would certainly be more honest to not "cook the books" with distorted numbers. Otherwise, all you have is cheap political posturing masquerading as a news story. And the Herald wouldn't do that?

Sorry, but I have to hand out an F for this assignment.

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