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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

What you can do about Utah's high gasoline prices

By C. D Clawson

October 4, 2006 | Across the nation, headlines such as,"Area gas falls below $2" are exciting many consumers. In past months, it seemed that there was no end in sight to the ever-increasing cost of mobility.

However, here in Utah, you wouldn't notice a difference. Gas prices still hover in the $2.79 a gallon range -- 45 cents above the national average -- while across the country some communities such as Richmond, Minn. and Springfield, Miss. are paying more than a dollar less per gallon.

Observing the national and local trends, gas prices have dropped at very different rates in recent months. Since the mid-August peak, we have seen prices drop about 20 cents from $2.97 to $2.79, while across the country prices have dropped an average of 60 cents from $2.97 to $2.33, according to AAA. That's a difference of 45 cents per gallon. For those of us who fill up once a week a 12-gallon tank, that's more than $5 more that we pay every week. Forty-five cents may not seem like much, but it adds up fast.

These numbers invite thought as to what we might do with this extra cash were we to be so lucky. Go to the movies? Have a nice dinner? The brutal reality is that these prices take their toll not only on our frivolous expenditures, but also on our everyday needs: food, bills, and clothing. Gas companies offer many explanations: Middle-East turmoil, refinery costs, low supply and ever-increasing demand. Consumers have their own explanations: corporate greed, gouging, etc. Turmoil continues as usual in the Middle East, yet gas production is reportedly higher and prices are lower than in recent months.

Gas companies allege that they must sell the more expensive gas (bought weeks ago from refineries while prices were still high) before they can start cutting their prices. However, there was no necessity to sell inexpensively refined gas when national gas prices began to rise. At that time, the companies weren't selling their cheap gas at a lower price.

Whether these explanations are true or false, valid or invalid, legal or illegal, what really matters is that Utah's consumers are paying too much for a day-to-day necessity.

Historically, Utah has been known for slightly lower gas prices. Consumer outcries have resulted in the call by local politicians for investigation, but in the mean time, we need other real solutions -- ones that will work for us right now.

One alternative given to consumers is to simply drive less by using public transportation and car-pooling. However, for many people, these alternatives, practical as they are, simply are not a convenient option. The solution: buy smarter. Shop around for the best price. To inform themselves, consumers have many online resources to find the best price including AOL's price comparison guide. With their zip codes and these sites, consumers can find easy-to-understand statistics about the gas prices in their area, directions to these stations, and national price comparisons.

Driving smarter through efficient driving and careful maintenance also helps to cut costs. Utah's energy website offers several suggestions which include turning off the car when it will sit idle for more than 10 seconds, regularly changing filters as well as maintaining wheel alignment and pressure.

As prices slowly drop and the government investigates whether gas companies are meeting their obligation to responsibly and ethically provide the public a basic necessity, we have several options to voice our opinion and change the economy. Driving and buying more effectively will help to lower the demand and price of gasoline through reduced consumption.

Choosing carefully where we shop and how we drive will also help conserve what little we have in our pockets so that the next time we'd like to go to the movies or the next time the heating bill is due, we'll have just enough money.

NW
RB

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