NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Missing information

Brittany Retherford writes about the "Supervisors to vote on pay raise today," June 28, 2005

This is an interesting subject for discussion, but the salary information in the article is incomplete and misleading. We do not know what we are comparing.
Currently, a board member makes $37,186, with the board chair bringing in $39,046

Nevada County's supervisor salary is low when you compare it with the state average of $51,628, according to a 2001 salary survey done by California Institute for County Government. It is also low when compared to the county's median household income, which is $45,864, according to the U.S. Census reports.

It is high, however, when you put the wage next to the average salary made by other rural supervisors - $29,288. The average urban county supervisor made $88,916 in 2001, according to the survey.
OK, we know that our BOS are part time positions. What about the Urban BOS? Are these higher paying jobs full or part time? This missing fact distorts the average, which becomes a meaningless number. What about the other rural BOS, full or part time? Why not just compare part time position salaries, giving the reader the full range and the median? Reporters need to give us the tools to evaluate the information in their articles.

All our local reporters could benefited by attending a citizen numeracy class the next time the Library and the Nevada City Rotary Club presents: Chance, Uncertainty, and Risk in Everyday Life. Details (here) and (here). All the papers reader would benefit, by being given number that mean something. This article does not tell us much.

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