Sunday, July 27, 2008

There's a word for that, you know

It's official: Christmas came early. Call it pain relief at the pump.

How else to explain the pinch-us-we're-dreaming tone that surrounds this minor statistical occurrence?*

It's really true -- gas dips below $4 a gallon
("Really true" distinguishing it from all those heds that are merely "true")

The signs don't lie: Charlotte-area gas prices really have dropped below $4 a gallon.
(That's good to hear. Because when the signs do lie, we have a word for that. It's called "fraud.")

Declining oil prices in the last two weeks – from a record-high of more than $145 a barrel to less than $124 Friday – have meant a little less pain at the pump.
(Don't hyphenate adj-noun combinations like "record high." Unless you're trying to take your readers' minds off "pain at the pump.")

Smart Shopperette of Charlotte filled up her white Mitsubishi Galant – whose license plate read LUVISLUV** – Saturday afternoon at the Quik Shoppe at East and South boulevards, where regular unleaded was $3.95 a gallon.

Ah, the beauty of news routines. A story like this isn't really official until a Real Person joins in -- i.e., until somebody buying gasoline is prodded into acknowledging that yes, it's usually better to pay less money for the same amount of stuff. And the white Galant is there -- well, for the same reason we always ask what kind of dog it was. More facts make a story truer.

“I drove over here to get this gas,” which was cheaper than stations near her home off Wilkinson Boulevard, Shopperette said, adding that saving only a few cents “makes a big difference.”

You know what might be more useful than playing Names Make News at the local gas station? Figuring out the point at which her statement becomes true. Let's keep it simple: 5 cents a gallon, 20 gallons a tankful -- five cents saves you a dollar a tank. At a ballpark figure of $4 a gallon, if you burn a quarter of a gallon getting to and from the 5-cent discount, it's a wash.

Isn't that fun? You wouldn't get to leave the office, but then again, you wouldn't have to ask people dumb questions like "Would you rather pay less money or more money for gasoline?"

* Copy editors: For real fun, next time you get a story about the "average price" of a gallon of gasoline, ask the originating desk for the standard deviation. Then ask for the sample from which the mean is calculated and whether the change from last week is significant. They'll love you!
** Forgive me for being unimpressed. Now if it had read LUVISNOTLUV THATALTERSWHENITALTERATIONFINDS, that'd be worth putting in the story.


Blogger Adamgv said...

Those who raise gas prices are already killing our children. Take back our country! Acquire the Red Alert Newsletter.

10:52 PM, July 27, 2008  

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