Don’t kill a story with facts

Not quite journalese, but there’s an old reporting law told countless times at the Press Club bar: “Don’t kill a story with facts.” A great illustration of this is an AP story, published in the Boston Globe, Dec. 13, 2016, under the headline: “Nation’s first offshore wind farm opens off coast of Rhode Island.” The story reports that Deepwater Wind has started “producing energy” from its five wind turbines 3 miles off Block Island, “to power about 17,000 homes, a project costing about $300 million.” Of course the story doesn’t say that the turbines will produce enough power for those homes only if all five work at 100% capacity, 30 Megawatts, at the same time and over a long period. The story doesn’t say such an achievement is impossible (wind doesn’t always a blow enough, or it blows too strong) which means wind turbines only produce about one-third of their rated capacity over a year’s time. Nor does it explain how Deepwater Wind can make the profit it intends to make after investing $300 million to provide only 10 Megawatts of unreliable electricity over a year’s period.

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