2 min read
Posted on 07.30.07
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 07.30.07

Not every newspaper headline matches the facts —or even the story to which it is attached.

Readers of the local daily newspaper probably noticed a headline and story on Friday reporting that the City would be fixing the elevators in some downtown high rises and billing the owner for the emergency repairs. The next day, the newspaper repeated the story — noting that the owner, not the City, would actually be fixing (and paying for) the elevators. The Friday headline — and the story under it — were just wrong.

A headline in Sunday’s newspaper was also incorrect, though the story beneath it was probably just misleading. The headline incorrectly asserted that the cost of the City’s planned free/pay citywide WiFi network is a $400,000 a year contract between the City and AT&T to provide a dedicated public service band for use by the Police Department and City agencies.

A careful reading of the story suggests that the headline writer might have been working too quickly. The story quoted a City IT person talking about the WiFi network and the public service band system. Both the story and the City’s IT person distinguished the two projects, the IT person more clearly than the newspaper. The headline writer did not.

Here, for readers who care more about details than headlines, are the facts:

  • AT&T is building a citywide WiFi network using City light poles to site the equipment. In exchange, City residents will have access to 20 hours a month of free WiFi, and have the option of purchasing more on-line time and faster connection speeds. In addition, AT&T will provide government access to a public service band in the densely developed downtown area. AT&T, which has a huge business presence in downtown St. Louis and a positive relationship with City government, regards the WiFi and public service networks as market tests.

  • The City will ask voters early next year to consider a bond issue that will include $2 million to build and use a full citywide public service band network. If voters approve the bond issue, the City will issue a Request for Proposals to build and operate such a network for five years. No company, as an AT&T executive is quoted in the story saying, has been promised the contract.