On Thursday, March 12, 2009, a front page article featured a picture of Jack Diestelhorst, the founder and co-owner of Notary Public Underwriters in Tallahassee, Florida standing on the roof of his office building next to a 25-kilowatt solar system.
The Democrat caption boldly states ” the rooftop solar system is projected to cut firm’s annual power bill by $5,000.” The news article had no information on the cost of system.
Here is what was omitted:
After one ten minute phone call, Tallahassee Reports found out the system cost $170,000. A quick calculation indicates that saving $5,000 a year will allow Mr. Diestelhorst to break even after 34 years and that is if there is no other costs.
Why would Mr. Diestelhorst, a businessman, sign-up for such a questionable financial deal – could it be his love of the environment or maybe his infatuation with solar power?
Maybe he signed up because he received approximately $140,000 in government subsidies. That makes his cost approximately $30,000 and his break even period only 6 years.
When asked why the cost and subsidy information was omitted, the journalist said this information would be covered later when he had more time.
Now the question is was the omission an editorial blunder or an institutional bias? Either way, the citizens of Tallahassee depend on a responsible source for information from the Tallahassee Democrat and they clearly did not get that in Thursday’s edition.