Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lazy reporting, biased reporting, and just plain wrong reporting

Given the discussion the other day about the MSM's recent Conservative bias, it's interesting to see how different media outlets are reporting new federal polling results from Decima.

First, let's look at the Canadian Press:

New poll gives Harper Tories seven point spread on sagging Liberals
1 minute ago

OTTAWA - A new poll suggests the federal Conservatives have begun putting some distance between themselves and the sagging Liberal party.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates a seven percentage point spread between Prime Minister Stephen Harper's governing Tories and Stephane Dion's opposition Grits.

The poll of just more than 1,000 Canadians last Thursday through Sunday put Conservative support at 35 per cent nationally, still one point below what the minority government achieved on election day in 2006.

The Liberals, however, slipped to 28 per cent among decided and leaning voters as three weeks of very public recriminations and infighting began to take their toll.

Editorializing here that's odd for a news organization like CP. Sagging would be a questionable comment for a news piece, even if it were supported by fact. And here they haven't backed it up. Where were the parties in the last poll, so we can compare the change and try to discern a trend? What's the margin of error? These are all things needed to accurately judge the poll.

But we'll get to that. Next, let's look at how another news wire, Reuters, covered the same poll:

Canada's ruling Conservatives open big poll lead

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's ruling Conservatives have opened up a big lead over the opposition Liberals but do not have enough backing to win a majority in a federal election, according to a poll released on Tuesday.

The Harris-Decima survey for Canadian Press suggested Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government was starting to benefit from turmoil inside the Liberal Party over what some members say is a poor performance by leader Stephane Dion.

The poll put the Conservatives at 35 percent, up from 29 percent in a survey the same firm did in mid-June. The Liberals dropped to 28 percent from 32 percent.

The Conservatives won power in January 2006 with 36 percent of the vote.


The Harris-Decima survey of 1,000 people was carried out from October 6 to 9 and is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

A big lead, hmm? Well, that's subjective.

At least we have some more information here. Unfortunately, they got it wrong. They transposed the Liberal and Con figures from the last poll. The last poll was Liberals 29, Cons 33, not vice versa. At least they tried to include it though, CP didn't even bother. So, now we see it's hard to say Liberal support sagged, they have it down one per cent. And the Cons up three per cent.

And they included the margin of error too. And it's 3.1 per cent. Which means all the movement was within the margin of error, something they overlook as they try to fit this into their pre-determined narrative of an ascendant Conservative Party and a sagging Liberal Party. In reality, you can't discern much of anything from these numbers. Both parties are still failing to gain much traction. Dido the NDP. Reading any more into the numbers is wishful thinking and spin. Which is certaintly fun, but not appropriate for news covergae.

Lastly, on the bias front, comes this line from Reuters:

Dion, who critics say is inexperienced and incompetent, is due to shuffle his shadow cabinet later on Tuesday.

Says who, your mom? Tom Flanagan?

A news story can't just toss out this kind of BS unsourced, it needs to be attributed. Who are these critics? This is a ridiculous slander to just toss into a non-opinion news piece. This is Reuters, not the Blogging Tories.

I'm a critic, and I think Stephen Harper is an arrogant and vindicative flip flopper and control freak who has failed to gain any ground among Canadians and leads a directionless and purposeless government that, despite all the Liberal troubles, is still well short of majority territory and is even off his last election result. And I'm far from the only one.

Why not toss that unsourced into your news coverage Reuters? It's just as valid and relevant, even if it doesn't for your pre-determined narrative.

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Jim said...

Stephen Harper is arrogant? I have never once heard him call himself a yearo (hero), or brag about some award he has been given.

Watch for future polls to continue this trend. The Libs will not get above the 30% mark in the foreseeable future (30% seems to be the magic Lib-drone number). Sadly, that is about the same number of hardcore CPC supporters. When the CPC announces sweeping tax cuts, watch for the swing voters to come onside with the CPC. If the Libs vote against such tax cuts they will most certainly be doomed as the evil party that is against putting more money in Joe Canuck's pocket.

These are terrible days to be the leader of the Liberal party.

ottlib said...

Actually Jeff, the last Decima poll, released about 10 days ago had the numbers at 33-30.

So if you take a look at these numbers and factor in the margin of error of 3%, not much has changed.

The change for both can just as easily be explained by polling error as any shift in support for the parties. And considering the trend that we have been witnessing for the last year I would say polling error is more likely.

Let's see how things shake out in the next couple of polls before we draw any conclusions.

Walks With Coffee said...

Until the LPoC gets its messaging machine going again, these pieces will continue to be the main media course. They are silly and propaganda but they don't have any other sources to go to for print. I remember when the CTV put Taylor on it's website's editorial list... you guys supported that. You allowed them to treat direct party hacks as journalists. Now, they are virtually writing these "news" stories. And, you have not fired up any meaningful message machine in response. Where is the LPoC war room? Who is organizing something other than leader local visits? I'm the most published letter writter in the country - with serious injuries and disabilities... with little to no support. Where is the LPoC machine? I don't see it and if I cannot no one can. The LPoC machine broke down during the Chretien-Martin war... and has not been fixed yet. That is why a borish bully like Harper can get away with what amounts to pure BS. It's your own lack of a machine that is killing you. Fix the machine.

ottlib said...

Why did Reuters compare this poll with the one from June instead of the one from last week?

"Lazy reporting, biased reporting, and just plain wrong reporting" indeed.

Of course we can blame all of this on that damned "Liberal media bias".

burlivespipe said...

..."When the CPC announces sweeping tax cuts..."

You mean to replace the tax increase they brought in (never mind huge tax increase for Income Trust investors, seniors and stock holders alike). I'm all for holding off on bringing down this crappy gov't until Oct 31st, so we can emblazon the CONs lie back into the headlines. Or I should say, one of their lies...

Walks With Coffee said...

To put a finer point on this post. I spend maybe an hour a month writing letters (do get some editing help as I'm injuried but an hour a month is about it) and yet my letters are the most published nationally. In other words, an hour a month gets more out there than the LPoC has been getting out for nearly two years... and you wonder why trash like noted above gets circulated... there is little meaningful counter messaging from the LPoC. Fix your machine!

Militant Dipper said...

Im with Coffee fix the machine!!

Jeff said...

When the CPC announces sweeping tax cuts,

You mean I might get back the money from that Conservative income tax increase? Handy trick, raise taxes, then lower them again and pretend it's an achievement. Canadians aren't that dumb.

Actually Jeff, the last Decima poll, released about 10 days ago had the numbers at 33-30.

Which as has been said makes it odd they'd choose to compare to a June poll instead in some stories.

Fix the machine

Preaching to the choir...