Testy Biz Copy Editor riffs on Challenger & Gray’s tripe
Challenger, Gray & Christmas’s annual estimate of how much money workers cost the U.S. “economy” by watching the NCAA basketball tournament on company time will be out any day now. As always, it should be ignored.
The estimate, rivaled in irrelevance and speculation only by PNC Bank’s ridiculous report on the cost of gifts mentioned in “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and the annual estimate of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner from the American Farm Bureau Federation, Challenger’s NCAA doomsday report (and a similar report on the cost of slackers taking off the day after the Super Bowl) is unverifiable and a little sinister.
Sinister because it feeds the flawed belief that workers are lazy good-for-nothings who take any opportunity to avoid their duties. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government agency that has no interest in the NCAA Tournament, belies that belief in reporting increased productivity overall in the past few years (although that has something to do with fewer workers doing more work). Stories about the farce Challenger reports rarely, if ever, mention that, or that plenty of executives, whose productivity is suspect, no doubt also fill out brackets and watch games during work hours.
The Christmas report and others like it are reported because they’re “fun,” which they’re not. Good fun (in short supply) is a good thing, but not if it’s specious and pointless. Space is tight. Take a pass.
Credit where credit is due: There are still some good headline writers out there. (New York Times)
And there are still bad headline writers: The Dow Jones industrial average took a dive Feb. 2 and much was made of “666.” Never mind that nearly everyone rounded that number up to suggest the Antichrist’s intervention. (The Oregonian, and countless others.)
The Dow is almost always reported to two decimal places.
By the way, Twitter did not “react.” Some people who posted on Twitter did. If someone sent you an email about this, email did not “react.”
Check your work: Not to say the demise of New York Times copy desks is responsible for this boneheaded mistake, but really. Look it up.
Empty quote of the week: “This combination expands and diversifies our revenue base and end markets, and enables us to deliver a broader set of differentiated solutions to our customers.” (Forbes et al.)>
It looks like it exists: The Realtors may report on “existing home” sales but there’s no need to carry the term to a photo caption that states the obvious. Or does it?
Phillip Blanchard is a former business editor at the Washington Post. Previously he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times and newspapers in upstate New York. He is founder of Testy Copy Editors.