What Do they Pay Reporters For?

A minor example of how reporters too often get small, but still important, details wrong. Earlier this week a California Senate Committee voted to send a bill banning foie gras on to the full Senate for its consideration.

The first story I read about this was by the Associated Press which claimed that the vote of the committee was 4-1, which would suggest the bill had quite a bit of support there. But then I ran across a Reuters story in which that news agency reported the vote as 4-2, which would be odd because usually committes like that have an odd number of people to avoid ties (although there could be abstentions).

So I decided to track down what the real answer was. Well, according to this California Senate page, the actual vote was 4-3 — both the AP and Reuters were wrong.

Sure, it’s a small issue, but how much time does it take to double check the numbers and get this right? Plus, it is relevant to the story since it indicates that the bill itself will likely fail. The bill’s sponsor is John Burton, one of the most powerful members of the California Senate, and if he could barely get the bill through is own committee, its prospects for passing the Senate (much less the House) are not very good.

Leave a Reply