Small Local Example why Media can’t be trusted – with how this relates to Amateur Radio

Click bait that “Rise in Retail Theft Incidents Reported Around the Country and Locally” with a byline of a local reporter on a very local news service.

I’m editing out names and station/source identifiers, as I want to point out that the logic is crap, rather than take the messengers to task.

A recent survey of small business owners across the country showed that 54 percent of them experienced an increase in shoplifting last year, much of it stemming from organized crime.

During an interview on the [local talk radio show], Neil Bradley, Executive Vice president, and Chief Policy Officer with the national Chamber of Commerce told us, “What they told us is 56 percent say they’ve been a victim of this in the past year and a majority say it’s getting worse. Our good friends at the National Retail Federation tried to put a dollar amount on it. What they found was that for every billion dollars in retail sales $700,000 was lost to theft. That number is up dramatically in the last 5 years.”

In our area, Bradley explained retail theft was such a growing problem in Green Bay, that the police department had to set up an initiative to do something about it.

“It turned out before that they had to pick up somebody at least 4 times for theft from a store before they would refer it to the district attorney’s office for prosecution,” he said. “That’s a pattern by the way we see across the country of people being able to steal multiple times before anything is ever done to them.”

Bradley added, “That’s a lot of what is fueling this shoplifting epidemic.””

Let’s take this piece of journalism apart paragraph by paragraph.

A recent survey of small business owners across the country showed that 54 percent of them experienced an increase in shoplifting last year, much of it stemming from organized crime.”

The claim expects us to believe that the shoplifting is universal across every area of the country – at the same time we are show in the media the extraordinary situation that so many major metro retailers are facing with literal intrusion-teams stealing in broad daylight. There is no reason to think what happened to retailers in areas where the rule of law has been sacrificed for political posturing – like metros – has any correlation to the experiences in small town upper Midwest USA.

During an interview on the [local talk radio show], Neil Bradley, Executive Vice president, and Chief Policy Officer with the national Chamber of Commerce told us, “What they told us is 56 percent say they’ve been a victim of this in the past year and a majority say it’s getting worse. Our good friends at the National Retail Federation tried to put a dollar amount on it. What they found was that for every billion dollars in retail sales $700,000 was lost to theft. That number is up dramatically in the last 5 years.

Lots of Journalistic whoppers in this paragraph.

The claimed statistic changed from 54% of retailers experiencing an INCREASED level of shoplifting in the first paragraph to 56% in paragraph two – and that 56% is now presented as the percentage of retailers that experience ANY shoplifting at all, with only a majority of that 56% reporting shoplifting actually saying it is worse now than before this year over last year (one year timeframe) – which could be as little as 28.1% of retailers at the bottom end. (Half of 56% plus a bit to make that a majority).

Then it goes on to make a third party quote that the period of increase may be actually be over five years, rather than year over year implied, and uses big impressive numbers.  Those numbers put into perspective of 700,000/1,000,000,000 give a 0.07% shoplifting loss ratio.

A whopping 0.07%?

When we know the statistic is top-loaded by the metros with their flash-mob and intrusion-gang losses, AND by California basically decriminalizing shoplifting if the stolen goods were under a certain dollar limit (below $950 is a non-felony theft, no matter how many times the perp steals), does this number mean anything?

And why the sensationalism of hiding a 0.07% loss ratio with big numbers?

I’m actually wondering if in the eagerness to sensationalize if they got the numbers right?

Going primary at https://nrf.com/research/national-retail-security-survey-2022 one finds different very different numbers.

And we find out the loss ratio includes rising employee thefts (insider theft) and other shrinkages (damaged as an example) as factors.

In our area, Bradley explained retail theft was such a growing problem in Green Bay, that the police department had to set up an initiative to do something about it.

And so what does that have to do with where I live?

Remember the folks in the Mountains have to add cooking time to recipes, but you sure don’t have to add that time down here at 680ft above sea level.  Likewise the woes of a metro reflect a differing human condition contrasted to rural farmland far away from the big city.

Green Bay is the nearest minor-metro with much of the same problems as other metros.

As a small metro with a third of million people (more is you want to continue the metro up the Fox River valley, as they all but merge) they have different problems than the thirty-thousand community nearest to me (where the new source that spawned the article is located), much less the actual place I live which has roughly one-thousand people living between my village and it’s surrounding countryside.

Bully for the Green Bay Police Department on their new initiative to enforce the law, though unless they push their crooks out into the countryside it doesn’t matter out here where the “journalist” writes from.

It turned out before that they had to pick up somebody at least 4 times for theft from a store before they would refer it to the district attorney’s office for prosecution,” he said. “That’s a pattern by the way we see across the country of people being able to steal multiple times before anything is ever done to them.”

Bradley added, “That’s a lot of what is fueling this shoplifting epidemic.””

So Green Bay had de facto decriminalized shoplifting arrests unless the thief was too active and got caught a lot, and suddenly wonders why they have a resulting problem?

They said it was “okay” unless you get get caught too many times!

Think about that.  Not very bright are they?

Does this have any relationship whatsoever to my village life or the citizens in the city where the news report was put out?  Not so much.

Actually the view from 40 miles away in the countryside, is Green Bay DESERVES the problem they have created by decriminalizing crime.

Back to the local article.

The whole article click bait and weak weak journalism.  Hyperbole and non-correlated claims aimed to tantalize and shock the small town reader.   VERY lazy journalism as it would have been an easy matter to talk to local police and store owners.  As digging into it, the byline name is not the actual authors correct name, one wonders what is really up.  If you can’t trust the byline to reflect the author, what can you trust?

And more importantly how did this weak journalism click bait get past the editor’s desk?

Not actually sure there is an editor rather than just a lead journalist.  Cannot tell, as like many online news services and small publications there is no “masthead” or “about” information.

Now how does this dissection of a small town news article relate to Amateur Radio?

Simple – with weak journalism and click-bait reporting on important issues like crime showing that journalistic standards are non-existent, you cannot expect any better reporting about Amateur Radio.

Experience is that even if you write the article for them, they will not even cut & paste it correctly.

So if you are doing club PR you need to be very careful.

Decades of doing club PR was a personal frustration, as events were announced after the fact, facts distorted and obvious edits made the articles nonsensical, promised & arranged interviews never happened, photographers promised never showed, and basically if the club didn’t do the actual writing nothing would have ever gotten published.

Additionally the dismemberment of the fluff article is a reminder to read critically when you read the “news.”

Go primary source when a new items catches your attention (in this article’s case all retail shrinkage is reported at 1.44% of which 37% is attributed to shoplifting for a 0.53% number – almost 8x the number the journalistic article stated) to try an regain accuracy in what you read.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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