Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Polls are not news

The Enquirer leads today with "Poll finds Ohio ripe for change", which reports on the results of a University of Akron poll asking how people stand on the many and various issues Ohioans will vote on this year.

First and foremost, polls are not news, or at least not front-page news. The Enquirer loves to tell you, the reader, what you think, but I just don't see how a public-opinion poll passes any test of what should be in the lead position of the front page of a major-city daily.

Second, this doesn't look like the greatest of polls. It was conducted, according to the small text under the pie charts, over a 40-day span (Aug. 20 to Sept. 29; I guess that's about 40 days), so it's hardly any kind of snapshot of public opinion. And think how much more information was available to voters on Sept. 29 compared to Aug. 20.

And I'm confused here: The second paragraph of the story says 1,073 Ohioans were polled, but the small text under the charts say it was 477. Which is it? There's also a 4.5 percent margin of error, which means the 47.7% who said "yes" on "Ban smoking without exception" could actually be as low as 43.2%, and the 43.9% who said "no" could actually be as high as 48.4%, which would put the "no" voters into the lead.

So, the poll reveals less than the Enquirer would like you to believe. But since the Enquirer wants to believe these results (if they didn't believe them, would they have put the story in such a prominent position in the paper?), they think you should, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They think their job is to decide who our candidates are and to be gatekeepers of who's news worthy and viable and who's not.

It's cheaper to cover polls and commercials than to do real reorting. Polls are for sheep. They want to herd the masses and manufacture consent.

9:25 PM  

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