Petition: Tell the New York Times (and the media) to Make Budget Stories Easier to Understand

by Patrick Lester, 6/27/2013

MoveOn.org has posted a petition asking The New York Times to report its budget stories in ways that ordinary citizens can understand.  They need your help on this. Understanding the budget is a necessary precursor to changing it!

According to the petition's background:

The New York Times regularly reports budget numbers with zero context. They write that a program "costs $700 billion over 10 years" or "saves $150 million" without indicating what percentage of the total that is or giving a meaningful comparison. Since most people don't have any idea that the federal government will spend $50 trillion over the next decade, these are just giant numbers--indistinguishable from one another--to most people.

It's gotten so bad that the Times misreported the cost of food stamps by a factor of 10--they wrote $760 billion, but meant $75 billion--and neither the reporter nor the editors noticed; they had to issue a correction.

According to Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

There is no reason that they should not change, and if they do, much of the rest of the media is likely to follow.

Petitioning the media to change its budget reporting might be outside the standard scope of action among progressives, but it is a well-defined action that could make a real difference. Much of our budget debate today is complete nonsense in large part because the public is so poorly informed.

To sign the petition, go here.

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