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DeGroot DePants DeSentinel

The illustrious John DeGroot sent me another missive this morning, this one savaging Scott Wyman's story this morning on tax cuts approved by the Broward County Commission. Whatever you might think about DeGroot's words, that lede, man, is no doubt clunky. Do editors even care over there care anymore? Or has the paper become such a joke with the Help Team that they've just given up altogether?

Whatever. Here's the rant:

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"The Sun-Sentinel once again has shown itself to be a journalistic vacuum of critical thought.

This time in County Beat Report Scott Wyman's 1-B coverage of Broward's $3.2 billion budget Commissioners approved at a stormy hearing last night.

Shame on them for (a) their total failure to get it and (b) their equally total failure to tell their readers what they need to know.

Consider the lack of intelligent journalism in Wyman's lead:

"Homeowners will receive the largest tax rate cut in 25 years this fall on what they pay to run Broward County government after county commissioners trimmed expenses further than initially planned Tuesday."

Okay.

Forget the clunky syntax caused by Wyman's attempt to cram 10 pounds of information into a five-pound bag.

Instead, ponder the key idea Wyman should have offered

his readers in the lead he blew:

"Broward property owners will pay a few dollars less from the hundreds more in their recording-shattering tax bills.

"This follows a stormy public hearing Tuesday night that saw Broward Commissioners approving their 2007 budget that will see:

"A 20 percent increase in property tax revenues over last year. .

"Versus a commission-approved 0.2 percent cut in their proposed 2007 budget."

At this point, Wyman could have used a quote from either Broward Commissioner Jim Scott, or John Rodstrom — both of whom clearly explained how their fellow commissioners were engaged in a shameless shell game designed to fool taxpayers into believing their were getting a break in their tax bills.

Which a simple "reader friendly" graph would have shown in the visually-addicted Sun-Sentinel.

And which Wyman failed to even touch on until after 10 very fat and grey graphs into the jump where only a news junkie roams.

To borrow from Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica:

TALK ABOUT FRACKING STUPID!

Thing is, while Commissioners Scott and Rodstrom were trying to speak the truth about their fellow commissioners fuzzy math, Wyman was busy writing his story for the next day inside the media's glass box far removed from the madding taxpayer crowd jamming the Commission Chambers.

I know.

I was there.

Which is why this morning — as a Sun-Sentinel alum — I'm once again embarrassed by the mind-numbing absence of critical thought and real reader awareness on the paper of Broward's dominant local newspaper.

Ah well.

Can't wait for the Help Team's next tell-it-like-it-is hum-dinger like:

'Your Spare Tire May Need Air.'"

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Starbuck, huh? I was a kid when that show was on and I still don't know who the frack that is.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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