Saturday, May 20, 2006

Spinning Afghan poll: Nat Post: Support firm. Otw Cit: Canada divided.

Yesterday, polling firm Ipsos Reid released the results of a poll it had conducted (for Global and the National Post) on the support of Canadians for our presence in Afghanistan, and the Harper government’s recent two-year extension/exercise in wedge politics.

The top line results: “Canadians Support Afghanistan Mission (57%) But Not Keen On Two Year Mission Extension (44%).”

Ok, interesting. There’s the basic facts, now how will the different media outlets with their different biases and prejudices, report these facts?

Here’s a sampling of how two newspapers, owned by the same company, covered the same poll this morning. Yes, the same poll. And more astoundingly, both stories are written by the same guy! Yes, the same guy wrote two articles on the same poll, both taking wildly different views.

Now, in fairness, it’s entirely possible that the editors at the National Post took the Citizen’s story off the internal wire and re-wrote it to fit their propaganda aims without the writer’s consent. I don’t know. But still, WTF?

The Ottawa Citizen
Headline: Mission divides Canadians

Excerpt: Canadians are deeply divided over the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan, a new poll shows, a division made worse by the decision to extend the deployment another two years.

The National Post

Headline: Support for afgan (sic) mission remains firm

Excerpt: Support for Canada's troops in Afghanistan remains relatively high, according to a new poll, which shows 57% of respondents backing the mission despite an increase in casualties.

It was an exclusive poll for Canwest Global so their media empire at first crack at it, but given the range of coverage within just their stable of publications (actually, only the Post tourqed it, the others are in line with the Citizen's, running their version of the story) I look forward to seeing how it’s covered elsewhere.

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Prairie Kid said...

To me more than 50% means a majority. I don't know what it means to you but n an election, that's enough votes to give you a majority. So to me that means that the majority of Canadians favor the mission. I don't understand your point at all unless you think that all media should take the left side of the argument. This to me is like burying your head in the sand because things aren't quite going the way you would like. Maybe you should try lying on your back and banging your feet on the floor.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Dude, what in the heck are you talking about? I've read your post three times now, and I still have absolutely no idea.

My post pointed-out how two newspapers put a wildly different spin on the same poll results.

I must have missed the part where I buried my head in the sand, or banged my feet on the floor (which, btw, would be rather tough to do if I was laying on my back at the time.)

Did you even read the post?

s.b. said...

It depends on how those numbers compare to ealier pols and what the trends are. Polls are only really useful tolook at trends anyways. So is the trend significantly down? Then that's news, not the actual number.

Penny said...

It would be interesting to see what the questions were, too. Like, did they simply ask, "Do you support the mission?" or did they ask if we should continue the UN- mandated mission... What does "support" mean? The troops, the mission?

And what in heck IS the mission anyway?

Wouldn't it be cool if the Canadian public actually did get to vote on their support for both the mission and the extension, Prairie Kid? Never happen though.

A vote for something that major though, should require at least a 66% majority.

A BCer in Toronto said...

There's so much you can do with polls to ensure you get the results you want. Not that I'm accusing Ipsos of that, but you're right in that it would be interesting to see the raw data.

In my day job as a tech writer, I always ask for the raw data because there's so much the PR people can do to selectively quote figures to support their argument, accurate or not.

For example, 75 per cent of people say they support X. But, the question is, how many support it strongly, vs. moderately or take it or leave it.