This is journalism in Pat Powers's world. He takes a photo of Rep. Kristi Noem and Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas holding forth at the State Fair and declares the meeting "packed to the gills!" (yes, exclamation point included). Let's count heads... and empty seats:

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-not OK), 10 listeners, and maybe 8 empty chairs at "packed" meeting, South Dakota State Fair, Huron, SD, 2013.08.30. Photo by Pat Powers, Dakota War College; annotations by CAH.

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Rep. Kristi Noem (R-not OK), 11 listeners, and maybe 8 empty chairs at "packed" meeting, South Dakota State Fair, Huron, SD, 2013.08.30. Photo by Pat Powers, Dakota War College; annotations by CAH.

In this frame, I see 11 audience members. I see maybe eight empty chairs. Granted, they the photo shows only the front row, and since every public meeting in South Dakota is like Lutheran church, there may be a higher density toward the rear, outside the shot.

But journalists choose photos that support their words, not to mention words that reflect fact. "Packed to the gills!" is not an AP-approved synonym for the "slightly more than half full" shown by the photo under that headline.

Update 11:45 CDT: I posted a comment to this effect under Pat's original post. It appeared; then reverted to "awaiting moderation," meaning Powers took it down.