In policy debate, we talk about overtagging, or powertagging, when a debater reads a headline or tag that completely exaggerates the main point of the evidence they read.
In the Madison Daily Leader, we talk about undertagging, when a headline totally undersells a story and misses the big news.
The latest star example: last Friday's headline, "Wind Turbine Ordinances Reviewed." Bad enough it's in passive voice—what, couldn't afford the ink to say "Commission Reviews Wind Turbine Ordinances"? I nearly skipped the story, thinking, "Great, the city read its rules. Call me when you actually do something."
This shoddy headline hid reporter Chuck Clement's real story. Seven paragraphs in, we learn that local construction magnates Don and Dick Amert want to build wind turbines in Madison. Amerts have a pretty clear plan: two 80-foot towers with 65-kW turbines sporting 27-foot blades. They want to sell the power to the city and thus offset their utility costs.
Clement's subdued prose makes it sound like the city's response was, Well, it's possible, but you'll have to work out an agreement with Heartland, and you'll need a fence and a lot of signs to warn people about those dangerous wind turbines....
Um, hello? City of Madison? Wind turbines! Locally generated power! Giant gleaming symbols of progressivity visible from miles away on the highway!
I've worked for Don and Dick. They are no crazy idealist hippies (well, maybe Don, just a little). They buy tools to get the job done. If these wind turbines weren't practical, maintainable machines that would produce a return on investment, Amerts wouldn't waste their breath on them.
Kudos to Amerts for forward thinking. Let's double-check the noise outputs and shadow flicker, talk to the neighbors, and sign that agreement! Let's get some Amert wind power into our grid!
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