When is a news story not a news story, but simply a chance to engage in yellow journalism and scare-mongering? Take for example, a recent story by the Associated Press with the headline “Gas prices a concern for ski areas as season opens.”
This is a typical soft-story. Some AP editor probably looked at the calendar, saw it was the start of ski season, and told the reporter to go out and see how President Bush’s bad energy policies are going to affect the ski tourism industry. The headline was probably written before the story.
The problem is that the high gas prices that are being assumed don’t exist. Thus the reporter has to use old prices from when prices spiked in order to claim that there’s a problem at all.
Just a few weeks ago, the average retail price for regular gasoline nationally was $2.60 per gallon, 81 cents per gallon more than it was last year at the same time, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
Why does it look at prices “just a few weeks ago”? I entered “gas prices national average” into Google and the first link that came up brought me to the web site of The Department of Energy, which tells me that the national average for regular gasoline is not $2.80, but $2.29. Thus gas prices today are not 80 cents higher than they were a year ago, but only 32 cents higher. Considering the trend over the past five years, that’s about an average increase, year-over-year, maybe even a little less than average.