This Is Good Journalism?

Yesterday's Tennessean had an article about how 75 state employees make more than double their base salary due to over time pay. That's 75 employees out of more than 40,000. Approximately 0.18% of the entire state work force. Sounds like an important fact to know, doesn't it?

Other than proving the Scene right, that doesn't do much though for me. The problem I have is that someone over there thought it was a good idea to get all state employee salaries, and post a searchable database on their website. Why is this news? Why does the world need to know my salary????

I could live with them posting the salaries of the persons who are getting paid double their salary due to overtime. But all state employees?? My salary isn't germane to their story. I don't even get paid overtime. The privacy breach is amazing here.

Privacy issues aside, posting all that extraneous information seems like poor journalism to me. It weakens the story because you have to question the importance of the facts being reported when only 0.18% of the target group actually has a problem. They quote the Governor Bredesen as saying "I'm not aware of any widespread pattern of abuse." and mention how 'some' question the amount of overtime being paid. Does 0.18% sound like a widespread pattern of abuse to any of you? I will give them credit for at least mentioning how big the sample size was. It does say in a sidebar that they included over 40,000 employees.

Leave it to the Tennessean to violate the rights of 40,000 people and be irrelevant at the same time.


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