Over at a nearby paper, there’s yet another announcement, entitled Innovation Center saluted for economic development, about how Whitewater’s multi-million dollar, publicly-financed Innovation Center supposedly won a significant ‘international’ award.
For a critique of a previous announcement of this kind, see Whitewater’s Innovation Center: Good for Producing Innovative, ‘International’ Fairy tales.
There are three points I’ll raise, specific to this iteration.
News Story or Press Release? One finds this announcement on the front page, below the fold, highlighted and boxed. And yet, is this a news story or a press release? I can’t tell, as it has no byline. If it’s a story, then someone forgot to publish the reporter’s byline. The lack of a byline suggests that it’s a press release, and it’s written like a very poor press release (more on that in a bit).
Membership vs. Entrants. Whoever wrote this did so assuming that readers would think that the membership in an organization implied a large number of entrants for an award. The announcement reads that
The competition is global and challenging. More than 4,500 members across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries belong to the council.
There may be 4,500 members, but it’s sophistry to imply that those members were all competitors for the award. Only a tiny fraction were actually competitors.
In fact, a prior announcement acknowledged that there were only 28 entrants (and presumably all paid members of this obscure group).
Wisconsin has over five and a half million residents, but no one should infer (or imply!) that anything like that number enters an annual Wisconsin shuffleboard contest, for example.
It’s also telling that the award only seems to go to paying members of the otherwise obscure organization, rather than a full range of all possible, worthy projects from across the globe.
So, 28 actual entrants, but now the implication of 4,500 members. That’s a 16,000% exaggeration level. Now, that’s innovative.
Who’s a Winner, in the IEDC’s Eyes? One should note that the Innovation Center didn’t win anything, but was merely an honorable mention. Here are some other nominees who received honorable mention designation:
Roosevelt Road Form-Based Zoning Overlay District
Berwyn Development Corporation
Berwyn, Cicero, and Oak Park, IL
Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land
City of Sugar Land
Sugar Land, TX
And for proof of the international scope of the award —
Elgin & St. Thomas Tourism Website
Elgin-St. Thomas Tourism Services
Elgin County, ON Canada
So while one might mistakenly assume a prestigious awards ceremony like this —
It was really more like this —
Ironically, and of no credit to those behind the Innovation Center, the winner in the Innovation Center’s category had the kind of focus that Whitewater should have:
A Framework for Understanding Poverty
West Monroe-West Quachita Chamber
West Monroe, LA
At least one entrant had the right focus.