However, even bigger news is the subtle changes in the way the media is covering the story. After a lot of hard work, messaging and a mini media education campaign, the papers are finally realizing that it's important to stick to the facts on dog track numbers. Heck, I'll even go as far as to say most of the following reporters probably read my Race Track Jobs Mythos.
Without further ado, let's look how the papers are covering the tracks now, from good to bad to worse.
From the Taunton Gazette:
“People are going to vote their pocketbooks,” Carney said. “Jobs are very important.”Thankfully, the Gazette got the memo. Now that the facts are out there, it's going to be awfully tough for Carney to keep playing with the math. (Also, 800-1,000? That's a new one from him. Maybe even he's getting the memo?)
Between Wonderland and Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park, Carney estimates between 800 and 1,000 full-time and part-time jobs would be lost if greyhound racing is banned. “It will have a serious effect on employment,” he said.
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, there are approximately 700 people employed by racetracks in the state, including horse tracks and auto speedways.
The Gazette gets an A+ in today's "Good Journalism" grade.
The Boston Globe
The Globe still reduces the numbers to a he-said-she-said thing (old habits die hard), but at least they're allowing Greyhound supporters the ability to rebut Carney's numbers. Oddly enough, Carney also reports vastly different job figures to the Globe as he did the Gazette. Anyway, here's the relevant quote:
Carney added that the ban, if approved, will result in a loss of jobs; the two tracks employ about 650 part-time and full-time workers....We'll give the Globe a B. It's working hard to get better.
Supporters of the ban said Carney's employment figures are greatly inflated. "That number is closer to 250, according to the census," [Brian] Adams said recently.
The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger's article seems a bit behind the times, but is still an improvement over what it probably would have published two months ago.
Supporters of the dog-racing ban, who are organized in a group called the Committee to Protect Dogs, have been disputing Carney’s claims that a dog-racing ban would leave at least 650 full- and part-time workers connected with the Raynham track without jobs. The dog-racing critics point to state figures that show only about 700 people are employed in the racetrack industry statewide.It's not a bad paragraph - even if it reduces the numbers to a he-said-she-said argument, instead of presenting the facts. (Would it pain the media to report the facts? Is it so hard to say: "According to the State Department of Labor, the entire race track industry employs approximately 700 people, including horse and amateur car tracks, which won't be affected by the ballot question?") Yet, none of that's really the problem - at least they're allowing some sort of rebuttal to Carney's numbers, which is an improvement over several years ago.
The serious problem with the paragraph is it's the first statement that rebuts what George Carney has to say - and it comes all the way at the end, the 9th paragraph out of 11. That's not OK, or fair, or good journalism. In fact, the entire article is about Carney's claims - not the state's actual numbers or even the fact that Carney's court case was just tossed out by a unanimous SJC decision. So, despite the decent paragraph, the whole article may as well have been published in a Raynham Race Track company newsletter.
The Ledger's clear Carney bias and only half-way decent paragraph of rebuttal, all the way at the end, merits the paper a C- in good journalism. It would have had an F if not for the quoted paragraph.
The Boston Herald
Of course, no surprise, the Herald's report is the weakest of them all, turning the story into a money battle and dedicating almost every written word about George Carney's willingness to spend more than the 2.5 million his lobby did in 2000, treating his declaration to spend whatever it takes to defeat the grassroots as if it were a good thing. Don't worry, though, they were sure to rebut Carney's 2.5 million with the $250,000 the Committee to Protect Dogs has in the bank. Really, isn't that the story - right after a major SJC decision - you'd want to read about?
I'll give the Herald a D, because despite the fact that it fell for Carney's messaging and didn't allow the Committee to Protect Dogs to rebut Carney's job numbers (or better yet, use the state's facts on the matter), the article was actually about how rich Carney is and how willing he is to spend money to protect his industry. It's a bad article, both in terms of what it chooses to cover as well as even how it chooses to cover it, but at least they're consistent, right?
So, despite the Herald and the Patriot Ledger's weaker stories, it's clear that today's Race Track news is good news - and that Greyhounds truly won the day. Their question is on the ballot, the suit to keep the question off the ballot was thrown out by a unanimous decision and, finally, key members of the media are finally starting to pay attention to the fact that Carney keeps making up these numbers as he goes along, all the while the state has statistical facts on the matter. People deserve an honest hearing about Greyhound Racing in the media, so hopefully this trend will only continue in the future.