Monday, June 27, 2005

Strange Fiber plan debate Constructed as vote nears

It's getting pretty confusing trying to figure out what what is going on with the supposedly factual series that the Advertiser said it was going to run. It was a good idea. There are lots of basic factual material that should just be in place as part of the background for makeing an informed decision either way.

But that is not what this series is turning into. Instead we get factual questions asked--of LUS or LCG (not the best targets, when local experts are available, but still...) with pretty much straightforward answers given about facts or announced intentions. Then apparently Neal Breakfield has been appointed to say that that might not be true, because nobody really knows and this or that fantasy might interfere. The He Said, She Said format is the antithesis of fact-based reporting...instead of informing it serves to suggest that nobody is sure about anything. That format is inappropriate because about most of these issues the case is actually pretty clear cut.

The oddness of the format in relation to the announced intention of the series makes one wonder whether an editorial decision sensibly made by Julie Metzger is now being executed by someone with no real sense of what is going on. Who is in charge over there? This problem used to be limited to the Times....

Here is an example of a well understood issue that could be easily answered with some authority by an expert (go to the Chamber or the University).

Prices:

LUS says it will reduce prices by 20% Cox and BellSouth says it can't. (Neal says who knows....So why ask Neal? Ask someone who does.)

What would a knowledgeable person be able to say to clear this up? Well, anyone who'd read the studies that consistently say that in the 5% of the cable market where there is competition the communities that have a competing landline cable company have about 17% lower prices might say that LUS is not being ambitous here. Instead they are taking a calm look at the market and deciding to take the competitive hit up front and take credit for bringing to Lafayette what is a competitive inevitability. It sounds like a way to turn the inevitabilities of competition (lower prices) into a marketing strategy for LUS. They'll be the price leaders and the ones that brought lower prices. A reasonable person could be either for or against the fiber optic utility and recognize the truth of basic, well-established economic fact. You don't have to think LUS noble or Cox venal to see the economic and marketing reality.

I leave similar responses to the rest of the article (where the Advertiser doesn't bother to talk to BellSouth and Cox before asking Neal Breakfield for his opinion) to the astute reader.

We need more than a he said she said constructed debae between the director and chief engineer at LUS and Neal Breakfield. We need someone to go out and ask a local, credible third party to explain the situation. Or, horrors, for the reporter to do an analytical piece that calmly states the obvious. No one is served by the unequal contrast put before the public here.

No comments: