Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Raw Bits

Bit Nos. 1 and 2: The Missing Copy Editor. A small regional airline "plans to add 737 planes to its arsenal." The writer thinks the word for a building that houses explosives is a synonym for "fleet."

Bit No. 3: Wrong Picture. "...chatting it up" is British for "staring at the camera."

Bit No. 4:  Percent vs. Percentage Point. The Journal over in Lake Placid continues Sun Coast Media Group's willful disregard for numeracy.  Editors wrongly inform readers that the state graduation rate has increased 10 percent since 2006, when in fact it has increased 10 percentage points since that time. We'll explain (again).

In 2006, Florida's graduation rate (the state Department of Education says), was calculated as 70.3 percent of students counted.  This year it was calculated as 80.1 percent of students counted.  If the number had increased by 10 percent from a base of 70, the new figure would be about 77 (70 x 0.01 = 0.7). That's good news for high school students. For newspaper editors, not so much.

Bit No. 5: The lazy economic indicator. "... it is reported ..." Yes, it was reported. But the editorialist doesn't say it was reported three years ago in a study run by a civic group in Grand Rapids, Mich., based on its  2007 survey of 19 Grand Rapids businesses. And, there's that pesky percentage vs. percentage point error again. The study used its data to deduce that if $100 is spent at locally owned businesses, $64 hangs around town. That's not the same as 60 percent more than the paltry $43 that hangs around when $100 is spent with those evil out of towners.

Bit No. 6: Amateur Photoshopping: We intended  asking when "stately" became a synonym for "portly" but were distracted by Santa's helping hands: 



  1. She wiped out an ELF! aka me!! Coal in her stocking, for sure.

  2. good catches. i didn't know the difference between percent/percentage points. my school has been saying that the graduation rate went up 10% (it only went up 5 points) which i thought was tricky PR wording, but i guess it's normal after all.
    thanks for the help!

  3. Are you getting permission to use these images? The irony here isn't lost on someone who works in publishing. I hope someone shows up on your porch with a big ole stack of legal documents.

    Someone (maybe me?) should report you for using images without permission? Wake up and smell 2012, woman!

  4. Dear Anonymous: The nice folks at the newspaper are regular readers; if they had a problem with the non-commercial, educational and personal-commentary nature of this one-off exercise, they would have let me know back in 2007, some 500 posts ago. Please share: which bit got your whities all tighty?