Innumeracy in two languages

Posted by Marc Hodak on February 5, 2010 under Innumeracy, Reporting on pay | Read the First Comment

It’s fairly well established that most journalists went into their profession precisely because they didn’t get along well with numbers.  They deal better with letters.  Except when those letters are numbers.  This morning’s Wall Street Journal has this at the top:

Punching the Clock on Super Bowl XLIV

The number of man hours an organization devotes to winning the Super Bowl is (M)–that’s one million in Roman numerals.  W1 and for updates.

Uh, M is one thousand in Roman numerals.  Remember those dates on movie copyrights, etc. with all those Ms?

Someone no doubt beat me to the punch because one of those updates on was to eliminate any mention of M as a million.

The real innumeracy, however, is failing to mention that it takes the same number of hours to lose a Super Bowl, and almost the same amount to not come close to reaching the Super Bowl.

How is this relevant to executive compensation?  Because you always hear about “paying for failure,” as if executives haven’t put in the work for a losing effort, as if it’s outrageous they got anything at all for competing and losing.  Granted “pay for failure” is often tagged to bonuses or equity grants when a company underperforms or fails, but that ignores the reality that (a) not every individual in a failed organization failed at their particular job, and therefore deserves no bonus, and (b) many of these “bonus” positions are like brush salesmen jobs, i.e., the bonuses are more like commissions, and even a poor brush salesman deserves a commission on what little he sells.

  • Martineaux said,

    I was walking past the desk at a hotel when this little blurb caught my eye….who’s doing their filler space content- or Fox??

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