One of the all-time great journalism movies is Absence of Malice. The movie is about a reporter played by Sally Field, and a guy who gets falsely accused of being in the mob, played by Paul Newman.
Newman gets revenge in a clever way, which leads to Field’s character getting put in the place that no reporter wants to be in: the subject of a story. Another reporter on her paper rolls her chair over to the desk where Field’s character is sitting, and asks her about the nature of her relationship with Newman’s character. She says, “Just... say we were involved.” The reporter then asks, “That’s true, isn’t it?” and Field’s character says:
“No. But it’s accurate.”
I was thinking of that scene yesterday when I was talking to a young reporter from Politico, Hailey Fuchs. I spent an hour talking to her about Daylight Saving Time the day before. We mostly talked about how great the movement is, and how much progress we have made.
She also asked some about the one annoying part of the otherwise joyous fun I have trying to fix Daylight Saving Time.
To her credit, the next day Fuchs let me know that the story was going to focus on the conflict. I told her the bummer of that is that the conflict isn’t the news. The news is that this is a meaningful issue that does NOT have an acrimonious debate. The news is that real progress is being made on something that was once thought unsolvable.
She replied that her story was accurate, so she would be going with it. When she said the word “accurate” it brought to mind that scene from Absence of Malice. She’s right, the Politico story with her byline is accurate.
It’s also not true.
What is the truth?
The truth is found in a poll that, ironically, Politico ran in the spring. It showed an overwhelming majority of people favor the Sunshine Act.
I thought about not even writing this response. I mean, why give any energy to the one annoyance in this otherwise fun hobby that I’ve had for eight years now? But I decided in the end that if anyone is interested in the truth, and not the cheap, easy story of a conflict where there isn’t one, they should be able to find that.
It’s sad for me that the editors of Politico would try to force such an acrimonious angle on what is an otherwise positive story. They did at least keep in one bit of truth:
That highlighted section is exactly right, and essentially undermines the whole thesis of the story. There are no members of Congress proposing that the country go into permanent Standard Time, and there is nobody in Congress who is in favor of the status quo of switching back and forth. That’s also true in the state legislatures, which have seen dozens of proposals to Lock The Clock into Permanent DST. There was one bill to lock a state into Standard Time, but that died quickly.
And there are no people other that the author David Prerau who think it’s a good idea to keep changing the clocks twice a year. I really hope that Prerau decides to write another book on the topic, because if he does he’ll see all the research that has come out since his book was published that shows how deadly that switch is. Given the research, his comments come off as almost callous in their disregard for the death and injuries inflicted.
As to the end of that sentence, that no action is imminent...
When I started zero states had passed anything, and there were no federal bills. Now we have 20 states that have passed something, and two federal bills. The Sunshine Act has an amazing set of cosponsors on both the House and Senate versions.
I suppose if by “imminent” Politico means “tomorrow” then that’s accurate. But given that we’ve been stuck with clock changing on and off for more than 100 years, I think action is indeed imminent.
That’s accurate, AND true, and there’s nothing that the cynical editors of Politico can do to take away from that truth.
I have edited this post to take out the negative references to other individuals. I realized that in my own way, I was contributing to the acrimony, and I don’t want to do that. I also deleted/edited the posts I wrote that originally contributed to the problem. I genuinely feel bad about inserting any negativity into what is a totally positive and fun issue. I will endeavor to do better.