Monday, February 09, 2009

Have the AP and Journal Gone Onion On Us?

The number of things I am wrong and/or misinformed about reaches well into the trillions.

So when I read an article from the AP's Susan Montoya Brown in today's Journal informing me of heretofore unrealized requirements regarding the recent attempt to Constitutionally allow school boards to hold elections on the same day as non-partisan elections, I'm not surprised that I am wrong. Happens all the time. Trust me.

What does surprise me is that four months have gone by before anybody in the media or NM Secretary of State's Office has let me, or anybody else, in on the little secret about the arcane electoral requirements involved. And I guess nobody let the APS School Board know, because as recently as six days ago Board members were bringing up the need to move its elections to October's city elections to increase voter turnout.

And evidently I'm on the same stupid wavelength as both the School Board and KRQE because their story on the subject posted 2.3.09 tells us:
In November, state voters approved a constitutional amendment which allows school boards to hold their elections on the same day as municipal elections in October. That would save taxpayers $350,000.
So what's going on here? I've been doing some thinking this morning, and I've got a theory.

The Journal story this morning is a fake. In an attempt to bolster readership, both the Journal and Associated Press have gone The Onion on us, printing satirical articles that subtly and not so subtly poke fun with madcap invented stories.

It took me a while, but being the seasoned Onion reader , I've noted small details that give the Journal/AP story away. Let's investigate with an extended snippet:
In the case of Amendment No. 4, official results show that 74.48 percent of voters were in favor of the amendment. Even if that threshold had been met, two counties — Mora and Harding — would have fallen short of the two-thirds requirement.
So it's not hard to see why it has taken five months for New Mexicans to realize that the amendment was shot down.
"The constitutional amendment process is a very complex process and requires a very sophisticated understanding, not to mention probably a law degree, so these kinds of things can happen," said Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a law professor at the University of New Mexico.
The constitution requires that most amendments be ratified by only a majority of voters. But when it comes to sections that deal with voter rights, access to public education and the rights of people to hold office and sit on juries, the tougher standards apply.
Brian Sanderoff, an Albuquerque pollster and political science guru, explained that Spanish-speaking minorities were very concerned about protecting their rights around the turn of the century when New Mexico was on the verge of becoming a state.

A few things stand out. Note the use of quotes from obscure law professors. See how the storyline preys on our lack of self-confidence when it comes to knowing anything about our democratic process. And, most glaringly, note the use of the name Brian Sanderoff. These crafty Onion-type satirists know that the Journal uses Brian Sanderoff like a Cowboys fan uses Coors Light. Nothing give credence to a totally made up story like a supposed quote from the ubiquitous "political science guru".

All in all, you really got to hand it to AP writer "Susan Montoya Brown" (obviously made up name). She certainly had me going, as did both the Associated Press and the Albuquerque Journal. I don't know if this latest desperate attempt by print news organizations to snag readers is going to work, but I'm sure I'm not the only sucker to fall for this morning's hijinks. I feel certain he APS School Board, KRQE and tons of other "knowledgeable" folks have been fooled as well.

P.S.: For those with an investigative bent, I will add that it really helped me unlock the satirical secret when I went to the Alamogordo Daily News, which had a link to the story. Now the link is dead. Obviously, the Daily News folks originally fell for the story, but then figured out what was going on. Crafty, these satirical types.

No comments: