So much of what's left of media criticism consists of slagging various competitors when they make a perceived misstep, I thought I'd pause for a moment to praise a colleague who did something today we see too little of, and is appreciated, at least by me.
|WBBM reporter Bernie Tafoya|
Rarely does anyone mention the infinitesimal odds. Rarely are the majority of people, who shun the lottery, given their due. We're all gripped in a fever! Every. Single. Time.
Thus I was impressed to hear two reports on WBBM 780 AM Wednesday by veteran newsman Bernie Tafoya, that offered perspective, talking of people who weren't playing Powerball, either because they didn't gamble or they knew they wouldn't win, and highlighting the just about impossible odds.
That's refreshing. The truth is, the majority of people never play the lottery, and of those who do, almost all never win anything of significance. It's a sucker's game, and the media does its audience no favors by downplaying that. The odds of winning Powerball are minuscule: worse than the odds of picking one person randomly from among the 315 million living in the United States and having that person turn out to be Barack Obama or his wife Michelle. When the lottery rolls over, the media emphasizes that the jackpot has grown even larger. The excitement builds! It never points out that the rollover means you could have purchased every single ticket sold and you'd still lose. I once figured out that the odds of winning the Powerball lottery is the same as hovering in space above the continental United States, flipping a quarter toward the entire country, where odds were even it could land anywhere on the US landmass, and having the quarter come down inside Wrigley Field.
If the lottery is news—and I can see the argument—then it is bad news, or at least depressing news: people spending being charged to dream when dreaming of course is actually free, plus government becoming addicted to vice taxes to prop up what's left of its operation. Good for Bernie for telling it like it is.