An emailer this morning took great exception to a story about a ballot initiative in Missouri concerning the payday loan industry.
"There are two efforts in Missouri to get payday loan issues on the ballot," wrote the emailer. "One is a smokescreen put up by the loan industry and is apparently the one Mr. Hancock wrote about. That proposal would not cap interest rates but instead provide a blank check to the industry. The second effort is a real citizen's effort to get a 36% interest cap, as in a multitude of other states, before voters in November. So far as I know, this effort is still underway and is in no way affected by the decision about which Mr. Hancock wrote."
The first part of his email is correct. There are indeed two separate measures, and they share many similarities. However, the ruling in today's story was against Missourians for Responsible Lending, the citizen's group. As the story says, the lead plaintiff is John Prentzler of QC Holdings Inc., a payday lender working with Missourians for Equal Credit Opportunity.
So yes -- it's very confusing with two similarly-named groups working two totally different angles on the same issue. KBIA radio in Columbia recently did a story about the subject, and it points out the confusion even among people collecting and signing petitions on either side.
My emailer suggested another story laying out the differences between the two groups clearly, and I'd agree that's needed here. Often journalists who are intimately knowledgeable about a topic forget that readers don't necessarily follow the story as closely. I know editors want to economize newsprint as much as possible, but I'd agree this is a case where a more explicit delineation would have helped.